Kevin O’Brien’s century overpowers Ashley Nurse’ 100 as Gujarat Giants beat India Capitals by 3 wickets

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Two centuries and a thrilling finish lit up the Eden Gardens on Saturday night in a thrilling match between the GMR-backed India Capitals and Adani Sportsline’s Gujarat Giants in the opening game of the Legends League Cricket 2022, to be held in India for the first time.

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It was a night of unexpected heroes, with Ashley Renaldo Nurse and Kevin O`Brien stealing the spotlight in a game that also involved Jacques Kallis and Virender Sehwag. First, it was Nurse who scorched the ground with an innings of 103 out of 43 balls to help the Capitals to the 179/7 post in 20 overs. And while you thought it would be nearly impossible for anyone to beat the nurse’s effort at night, Giants’ O’Brien came up with a fitting answer, crushing 107 of 61 balls.

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In the end, the Giants came out victorious by three wickets as they chased goal in 18.4 overs, but not for some tense moments. Capitals spinner Praveen Tambe, 50, came in with three late wickets, including two in the 19th over, to put pressure on the Giants. That the winning run came from a wide only added to the drama of an exciting match.

Irishman O’Brien, who scored a fifty in Friday’s exhibition game between India Maharajas and World Giants, hit 15 fours and three sixes. He nearly finished the game before falling over to Liam Plunkett in the 18th. O`Brien was named Game Changer of the Match.

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After Giants captain Virender Sehwag invited the Capitals to bat first, the strong crowd on the ground must have expected to witness a special Kallis. But while the Capitals captain wasn’t having a good day with the bat as he couldn’t open his account, it was Nurse who set up the fireworks.

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The 33-year-old Barbadian-born Nurse came in as No. 6, treating fans to an extraordinary show of big blows. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that it was Nurse’s healing touch that saved the Capitals’ innings after being reduced to 74/6 by the 12th over. Nurse was awarded the Legend of the Match award.

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However, the Giants initially dictated terms with left-poor Orthodox spinner KP Apanna cheating the Capitals batters with his craft. Like Nurse, Apanna turned out to be quite an unexpected hero in a bowling lineup with names like Mitchell McClenaghan and Graeme Swann.

But the 33-year-old, who played first-class cricket for Karnataka, stunned the Capitals by sacking Hamilton Masakadza and Kallis in the third over of the innings. The dismissal of Kallis was a classic left pitch and foxed the batter.

Apanna finished 4-0-36-2, but it could have been better if a close lbw call against Nurse had gone in his favour.

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