Sri Lanka Legends who rekindled the enthusiasm for cricket in Sri Lanka, ended the Road Safety World Series as runners up after a gutsy show and intense fight with good neighbour India.
Following an excellent run in the tournament, by which Sanath Jayasuriya, Thilakaratne Dilshan, Rangana Herath & Co took many Sri Lankans back to their childhood/early adulthood, the now much-loved Legends team lost the title by a whisker in a last over thriller.
Amidst a substantial fanfare from all around the world, the first thing to grab everyone’s attention was the sheer class of Sachin Tendulkar, who opened the batting for India Legends, as a result of his loss at the toss.
The god of Indian cricket swept Dilshan over through square-leg for back to back boundaries with so much ease that many would have forgotten that he retired 8 years ago. He scored an elegant 30 at the top of the order as India Legends got off to a steady start despite losing 2 wickets for 35 runs.
This is when Farveez Maharoof decided to kick in with his modest medium pace and pick up the most-valued wicket of Tendulkar. Maharoof had a brilliant day with the ball, cleverly mixing his deliveries to out-fox the old foxes returning figures of 1 wicket for just 16 runs off his 4 overs.
Sanjay Manjrekar pointed out that Sri Lanka probably got too excited and cautious that it is a final, during the post-match show. It seemed a valid point about Sri Lanka’s performance as their nervousness was visible in their game today.
While Yuvaraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan kept smashing the bowler all around the park, Dilshan opted to stick to Nuwan Kulasekara and Dhammika Prasad in bowling. He had the luxury of Rangana Herath and Sanath Jayasuria – both wicket-takers in the game, – but stuck to bowlers who went for over 10 runs an over. What went on in the skippers mind was mind-boggling.
Yuvraj scored a cracking 60 while Yusuf Pathan abolished the bowlers with a storm-like knock of 62 runs. It was surely a match-winning partnership.
The host team struck 65 runs in the last 5 overs which ended up being the catalyst of their win.
Despite having 181 runs on board to chase down, the master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya went on his merry way. He hooked, cut and slashed his way to a swashbuckling 43 runs much to the delight of his fans.
The opening pair put up a 62-run stand to keep Sri Lanka afloat in the chase. But, with very less contribution from the middle-order the game headed to the wire.
When everything looked settled and India Legends were heading toward an easy win, the pendulum rocked back towards the Lankans as Kaushalya Weeraratne smacked a 15-ball 38 runs. But his valiant efforts were not enough to get Sri Lanka Legend over the line.
Pathan brothers had a sensational day at work. After his heroics with the bat Yusuf Pathan impressed with his bowling by picking up 2 wickets for 26 runs.
His brother, Irfan Pathan, trussed up the Lankans with his guileful left-arm seam as he ended with figures of 2 for 29.
By the end of the 18th over, Sri Lanka Legends had a bit of a hope as Weeraratne ended the previous Vinay Kumar-over with a couple of sixers and had 30 runs to get off 12 balls.
An outstanding over from Manpreet Gony meant that the Indians were on their way to glory. He gave away just 6 runs in the over and kept the pressure intact. Most importantly, he got rid of the dangerous Weeraratne.
The final nail in the coffin was stung by Vinay Kumar who ended the game with wickets off last two deliveries as Sri Lanka toppled for 167 runs for the loss of 7 wickets.
Even though the Lankan heroes of the bygone era couldn’t win the title of the tournament, they most definitely won a tremendous amount of love and respect from their ardent fans.
Congratulations to the Legends from all of us at ThePapare.com for the heartening show they put up over the last few weeks.
India Legends 181/4 (20)
Yusuf Pathan 62*, Yuvraj Singh 60, Sachin Tendulkar 30, Farveez Maharoof 1/16, Rangana Herath 1/11, Sanath Jayasuriya 1/17
Sri Lanka Legends 167/7 (20)
Sanath Jayasuriya 43, Chinthaka Jayasinghe 40, Kaushalya Weeraratne 38, Yusuf Pathan 2/26, Irfan Pathan 2/29