Gayle fifty headlines Giants' win over Maharajas
Earlier, Brett Lee picked up 3 for 18 to restrict Maharajas to a sub-par total
World Giants 139 for 7 (Gayle 57, Watson 26, Yusuf 2-14) beat India Maharajas 136 for 9 (Raina 49, Bisla 36, Lee 3-18)
Chris Gayle's 46-ball 57 made light work of World Giants' chase of 137 after Brett Lee (3 for 18) bowled a game-changing penultimate over against India Maharajas on Wednesday. World Giants completed the chase with eight balls to spare to complete a routine win in Doha.
Gayle was clear about his intent from the start of the innings. He smashed six boundaries in the first three overs to pile misery on Maharajas' bowlers, and was particularly harsh on Ashok Dinda. In the sixth over, he hit him for 4, 6, 4 and 4 off consecutive deliveries.
Shane Watson added to the momentum with some vintage shots in his quickfire cameo. After taking two fours off Pravin Tambe in the seventh over, he smashed stand-in India Maharajas captain Harbhajan Singh for two consecutive boundaries in the next.
Tambe temporarily stalled Giants' cruise, bowling a dream delivery to dismiss Watson as the ball beat him on the outside edge and dislodged the off bail.
That dismissal, along with a few wickets as the innings progressed, forced Gayle to take a cautious approach in the chase. Having reached his half-century in 26 balls, he managed only seven in the next 20. His innings was cut short by Suresh Raina, who surprised him with a length ball that didn't bounce much and trapped him right in front.
Even though World Giants continued to lose wickets after that dismissal, cameos from Samit Patel and Morne van Wyk carried them over the line.
Earlier, in the absence of their regular captain and in-form opener Gautam Gambhir, India Maharajas were desperate for a strong start. Robin Uthappa, coming off a spectacular fifty on Tuesday, did not look in control against Samit even though he had found a boundary off his second delivery. Two balls later, Samit dismissed him with an arm ball, with the batter mis-hitting it to Aaron Finch at midwicket.
Raina tried to increase the scoring rate, hitting Monty Panesar for two back-to-back sixes in the eighth over. First, he picked up a back-of-a-length delivery and pulled it over deep midwicket and then stepped out to smash the next over the bowler's head.
However, Maharajas' innings followed the pattern of solid partnerships followed by quick wickets throughout. After a 60-run stand between Raina and Manvinder Bisla, they lost Yusuf Pathan and Stuart Binny off consecutive deliveries.
Irfan Pathan's cameo of 25 off 20 balls carried them for a while but Lee's two wickets in the 19th over restricted them to a sub-par total.