Pakistan set a 198-run target for the star-studded World XI side in the premier match of the T20I Independence Cup series at Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium on Tuesday.
The green shirts racked up a solid total of 197 for the loss of five wickets in the first innings on the back of a 122-run partnership between Ahmed Shehzad and Babar Azam despite a shaky start to the match with Fakhar Zaman falling in the first over.Fakhar Zaman is caught out on 8 in the first over of the three-match T20i Independence Cup series in Lahore. ─ Photo courtesy ICC Twitter
Azam, the highest run-scorer this innings, smashed 10 boundaries and two sixes, reaching his second T20I 50 in the 10th over of the innings.
He left the pitch with 86 runs off 52 balls ─ his highest ever T20I score ─ after being caught out off a delivery from Imran Tahir.
100 came up for Pakistan in the 12th over with a single off Shehzad, who was caught out by Darren Sammy in the 15th over.
Thisara Perera got skipper Sarfraz Ahmed (4) and veteran Shoaib Malik (15) out within a span of two overs at the tail-end of the innings.Faf du Plessis and Sarfraz Ahmed call the toss for the first fixture of the series.
As the match kicked off earlier today, World XI skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat first. Sarfraz, however, appeared unfazed, telling Ramiz Raja the green shirts had “wanted to bat first anyway”.
Du Plessis told Raja the experience was “pretty new” for the World XI.
“We’ve got a long batting order and [that] gives us an opportunity to look at the wicket. It’s an honour to lead the World XI. Great to see we can play a small part in bringing cricket back to Pakistan. It’s not about egos,” he said.
Ahmed told the commentator that many of the younger players on the team are experiencing a home crowd “for the first time”. However, he said, the focus today will be on cricket.
“The past is the past. We have an excellent team,” he added.
The World XI tour is a significant development for Pakistan, as the country has not hosted top-level international cricket — barring five limited over matches against minnows Zimbabwe in 2015 — since the Sri Lankan team bus was attacked by terrorists in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff.
The Independence Cup, the first to break the dry spell, is a three-match T20 series which will be staged at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, on September 12, 13 and 15.
The two teams, who made their way to the stadium amid tight security today, were greeted by with stands packed to the rafters with cricket enthusiasts who have waited patiently for the return of international cricket to Pakistan.The World XI team did an honorary lap of the Gaddafi Stadium before the toss — AFP
South African du Plessis said upon the team’s arrival on Monday that the international cricketers were “playing for something bigger than the game itself” at a press conference upon arrival in Lahore.
“You always try to find things to help you leave your mark — and this seemed like the sort of opportunity to do just that,” du Plessis had said, explaining the motivation behind his trip to Pakistan as the team’s captain.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed called the series “a proud moment” for the squad.
“We are playing in Pakistan after a long time. Luckily, I am involved in this event and that too as a captain,” he added.