At 62/4 after 11 overs, Team India Legends was in no position to win the match against the Sri Lanka Legends when Irfan Pathan stepped on the field amidst all the cheers and noises.
Irfan rescued Team India with a nearly perfect inning and stuck on the crease till the very end and ensured Team India’s victory.
A brilliant performance with the bat from the left-hander reminded of the days when he would come to bat down the order and play crucial knocks.
It was the third match of the Road Safety World Series and was played at the DY Patil Stadium, Mumbai.
After winning the toss, Team India Legends’ captain Sachin Tendulkar opted to field first against the Sri Lanka Legends, led by Tillakaratne Dilshan.
It was a good pitch to chase, and the toss win was a crucial factor in shaping the match.
The crowd was cheering in joy as the two teams came down on the field. Every person on the stands chanted one name in harmony, ‘Sachin!’ ‘Sachin!’
Sri Lanka Legends’ Innings
It was Sri Lankan batsmen Dilshan and Romesh Kaluwitharana, who came out to bat in front of a jam-packed stand.
The opening partnership was quite good and the two batsmen looked quite confident as they hit a few strokes past the cover for boundaries.
The partnership went on great for six overs and the India Legends were finding it difficult to get the batsmen out. After six overs, the powerplay was over and Sachin handed the ball to Munaf Patel.
Munaf bowled a brilliant delivery to get Tillakaratne Dilshan out on a score of 23 and it was the crucial breakthrough Team India Legends needed.
After their captain got out, the other batsmen started falling like leaves from a tree during the autumn. It was Irfan Pathan who dismissed the second opener, Romesh and at a score of 72, four Sri Lankan batsmen had travelled all the way to pavilion.
There was a partnership building between Kapugedera and Senanayake, but the run rate was quite slow and Munaf Patel dismissed Senanayake on the last ball of the 16th over and the score was now 101/5 after 16 overs.
India Legends were quick to grab on a few wickets as Rangana Herath hit 3 consecutive boundaries on the last three balls of the innings.
It was a complete showdown by the Indian pacers, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, Manpreet Gony and Irfan Pathan as they restricted the Sri Lankan Legends to an easy score of 138/8 after 20 overs.
Munaf Patel’s four-wicket haul
Munaf Patel recaptured the essence of pace bowling in the match against Sri Lanka Legends as he dismissed 4 batsmen to help India win the match.
It was a clear reminder of the bowler’s class and the ease with which he used to take wickets. The crowd cheered as he bowled some great balls and was accompanied by Zaheer Khan to remind everyone of the 2011 World Cup.
Munaf was the most economical bowler yesterday as he gave just 19 runs in 4 overs and grabbed 4 wickets along. The crowd was swinging to his balls and there were constant chants to support the legendary pacer.
He has been the highest wicket-taker for the India Legends team in the Road Safety World Series up to now and hopefully, he will continue his blistering performance in the upcoming matches too.
India Legends’ Innings
It was time for the India Legends to chase down the target of 139.
The crowd knew that and everyone else knew that it was the ‘God of Cricket’ who will be stepping on the field to open the innings for India Legends.
The whole crowd had posters of Sachin and stood up to pay an ode to the Master Blaster.
He stepped on the field with Virender Sehwag and it was quite difficult to hear anything at that moment as there was only one name to be heard around the stadium.
Sachin failed to make an impact on the match with his bat and fell prey to Chaminda Vaas on the third ball.
Virender Sehwag followed his partner to the pavilion on the last ball of the third over as he couldn’t keep up with the pace and got run out.
It was Yuvraj Singh who stepped on the field and everyone was hoping to see a couple of big shots from the Southpaw.
The Indian batting was now trying to gradually move ahead with Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh on the field. It was a complete nostalgic feeling and the fans hoped to see one another brilliant partnership by the two friends.
Unfortunately, Yuvraj Singh gave away his wicket while trying to hit it out of the park and Chaminda Vaas had one more wicket to his account.
Sanjay Bangar came out to bat in the middle and along with Mohammed Kaif built a strong foundation but the innings was not moving at a steady pace and India Legends were playing at a sun rate of around 5.
The two batsmen looked well settled when Rangana Herath dismissed Bangar for 18 and India Legends was now hanging in the middle at 62/4 with a well-settled batsman Mohammad Kaif and Irfan Pathan.
Mohammad Kaif’s patient innings
India needed a stable partnership at this time and Mohammad Kaif had to take the pressure and layer off the innings for the batsman on the other side.
He was playing brilliantly and quite passionately, he would swing his bat on a loose delivery and be rotating the strike perfectly. He along with Irfan Pathan stabilized the India Legends innings and batted through the obstacles quite effortlessly.
The partnership was going good until Mohammad Kaif struck high in the air off a Senanayake delivery and got out on a good score of 46.
He had built the base for Irfan Pathan to finish the match off in style but couldn’t bat his way to the end. It was a brilliant inning by Mohammad Kaif as he remained on the field when the other batsmen failed to and made an impact on the scoreboard.
Player of the Match: Irfan Pathan
Mohammad Kaif was gone and Team India Legends was stuck in the middle at a score of 81/4 when Manpreet Gony came out to bat.
The match result now solely depended on Irfan Pathan’s performance and how he carries the team. There was no other batsman left in the squad and it was the bowlers who were to come if he got out.
Not only that, India Legends had to shift the gears as 58 runs were required off 32 deliveries.
After that what happened was insane and completely phenomenal. Irrfan Pathan targeted Sri Lankan bowlers and started hitting them for boundaries and sixes.
The crowd which was silent earlier was now hooting for Irfan Pathan to hit more sixes. As Pathan hit some boundaries, he made Gony comfortable on the pitch and gave him the liberty to swing his bat on a loose ball.
Gony hit a huge six and India Legends was back in the game.
Irfan Pathan batted his way past the Sri Lankan bowlers and pressure to score a comfortable fifty. After Mohammad Kaif’s wicket, no one had expected Team India Legends to win and everything was made possible by Irfan Pathan and the way he played.
The left-handed all-rounder delivered the performance of the series to win the Player of the Match award and help India Legends defeat Sri Lanka legend by 5 wickets with 8 balls to spare.
Irfan Pathan scored 57* off just 31 deliveries and claimed a wicket while bowling to win the Player of the Match award for delivering an excellent all-round performance.
The next match of the Road Safety World Series will be played between South Africa Legends and West Indies Legends today at DY Patil Stadium and in their next challenge Team India Legends will go head to head with South Africa Legends on 14th March at MCA Stadium.