Johannesburg - Former South African spinner Imran Tahir uncharacteristically helped his team to victory with the bat as he smashed 52 runs off 19 balls, as the World Giants beat the India Maharajas by three wickets in their Legends League Cricket clash in Al Amerat, Oman, on Saturday.
Known for his wild wicket celebrations as a bowler, often sprinting the length of the cricket field while his teammates trail in his wake, Tahir this time was left punching the air wearing his batting gear.
In the tournament which pits three teams assembled from retired cricketers, Tahir was able to showcase a side of his game seldom seen before.
The Maharajas had batted first and posted a mammoth 209/3 in their 20 overs. Opener Naman Ojha struck an incredible 140 from 69 balls, while he was ably assisted by Mohammad Kaif with 53 off 47 balls.
The 42-year-old leg spinner Tahir did not have much luck with the ball with 0/35 from his four overs. While retired England batsman Kevin Pietersen top-scored for the Giants as he opened the batting with 53 from 27, the team proceeded to lose wickets at regular intervals as their chase stuttered.
Tahir came to the wicket with his side at 130/6 after 13.4 overs with the Giants needing a seemingly impossible 80 runs from 38 balls. It also meant Tahir had nothing to lose, as he swung wildly at the ball at every opportunity.
In what seemed no time at all, Tahir smashed six sixes and three fours as he helped his side to victory with three balls to spare, with a sliced heave over long off for a maximum to win the match and bring up his half-century.
Though Tahir does have four first class 50s in his career which began 26 years ago, it was the first time he scored over 23 in T20 cricket.