Pakistan celebrates return of international cricket with Independence Cup triumph

Photo courtesy Hindustan Times

Lahore: Pakistan’s successful return to hosting international cricket was completed when the national team defeated the ICC World XI to win the three-match Independence Cup Twenty20 International series 2-1 on Friday at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

Foreign teams have refused to play in Pakistan after an attack in 2009 on Sri Lankan team in Lahore during a Test match against Pakistani team.

However, the hosting of the short series is a major step towards convincing international teams to start touring Pakistan again, with Sri Lanka already arranged to play a Twenty20 match in Lahore on October 29.

Under the captainship of Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan team outplayed the World XI in Friday’s decider to clinch the series 2-1.

Pakistan had won the first match by 20 runs on Tuesday before World XI leveled the series with a seven-wicket victory in the second on Wednesday.

The World XI – consisting of cricketers from seven different countries – included big names like Hashim Amla, Morne Morkel, Faf du Plessis, Thisara Perera and Darren Sammy.

World XI captain Faf du Plessis hailed the series as a big step and a huge success in bringing international cricket back to Pakistan.

“This has been a huge success,” said du Plessis. “We wanted to come here and play a small part in cricket coming back to Pakistan. Thank everyone for the opportunity for coming here.

“We were joking about it, the blokes were saying we should do this every year. For a lot of guys who don’t play a lot of international cricket these days, this was terrific competition against a strong Pakistan side.”

Pakistan had piled up 183-4 after they were sent in to bat by World Xi skipper Faf du Plessis.

After being sent in to bat first by World XI skipper Faf du Plessis, Pakistan piled up a decent total of 183-4.

Pakistan’s innings was built around opener Ahmed Shehzad’s 55-ball 89 and a 31-ball 48 by Babar Zaman. The two added 102 runs for the second wicket after Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman for 27.

Shehzad in his blistering knock of 89 cracked eight boundaries and three sixes.

Shoaib Malik hit two sixes in his seven-ball 17 not out as Pakistan added 58 in the final five overs to reach 183.

Sri Lankan seamer Perera was the pick of World XI’s bowlers with 2-37 in his four overs.

In response for the World XI, only Thisara Perera, with a 13-ball 32 including three sixes and two fours, and David Miller, who hit a 29-ball 32, made significant contributions.

Others never got going in a shaky chase which saw three World XI batsmen run out. Pakistan pacer Hasan Ali finished as the best bowler with figures of 2-28.

The game saw Pakistan’s two retired cricketing legends, Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq, receive a lap of honor arranged by the Pakistan Cricket Board. The two were also given a standing ovation by a packed 25 000 crowd.


PAKISTAN: Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Usman Khan, Rumman Raees

WORLD XI: Tamim Iqbal, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (capt), George Bailey (wk), David Miller, Thisara Perera, Darren Sammy, Ben Cutting, Samuel Badree, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir

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