Sri Lanka all-rounder Thisara Perera hit a towering six off the penultimate ball to steer the World XI to a thrilling seven-wicket win over Pakistan in the second Twenty20 Wednesday.
Perera made a whirlwind 19-ball 47 not out with five sixes, while Hashim Amla finished not out 72 off 55 balls to help the World XI overhaul a 175-run target and level the three-match series 1-1 before a packed Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.
That left the series intriguingly placed with the final match on Friday, also in Lahore.
Pakistan had registered a 20-run win in Tuesday’s first match, which marked the return of international cricket to Pakistan.
Left-hander Perera went on a rampage as the visitors needed 33 off the last two overs, smashing two sixes off the 19th over bowled by Sohail Khan before sealing the match in the last over.
Amla, who scored his seventh international Twenty20 half-century, was the steadier of the two, with two sixes and five fours as he helped Perera add 69 runs for the fourth wicket off just 35 balls.
That partnership lifted the World XI after they lost Tamim Iqbal (23), Tim Paine (10) and skipper Faf du Plessis (20).
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) September 13, 2017
“It was a very happy day,” said Perera. “Hash (Amla) told me to stay till the last moment because we can catch up. I listened to him and we did really well.
“It’s a habit for me to be in the situation like this. This is a dream come true for me playing in this World XI. Thanks to Pakistan’s fans for coming out in good numbers.”
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed gave credit to the visitors.
“World XI deserves the credit,” said Ahmed. “Amla and Perera kept it till late and did it. Our bowlers are young and this is an occasion for them to learn how to bowl in such situations.
“We were also a little sloppy in the field. The score was good enough but if the execution was better in defending, we would have pulled it off.”
Pakistan had scored 174-6 in their 20 overs.
Babar Azam (45), Ahmed Shehzad (43) and Shoaib Malik (39) had good starts but none of them went on to score big, as Pakistan found it tough going on a slow and low pitch after winning the toss.
— PCB Official (@TheRealPCB) September 13, 2017
Opener Fakhar Zaman fell for 21 in the fifth over before Shehzad and Azam steadied the innings with a 59-run stand for the second wicket.
Malik hit two sixes in the last over before holing out off the last delivery of the innings.
During his 23-ball knock Malik became the leading run scorer for Pakistan in Twenty20 international cricket, overhauling Umar Akmal’s aggregate of 1,690 runs in 88 matches by two runs.
He now has 1,692 in 88 matches.
Perera (2-23) and West Indian spinner Badree (2-31) were the main wicket takers for the visitors.
Pakistan’s security situation has improved but it needs to work on confidence-building measures to convince major teams such as Australia and England to tour, International cricket Council chief executive David Richardson said Wednesday.
Pakistan is hosting a World XI for three Twenty20 matches in only the second international series at home since attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009 suspended all international cricket in the country.
Richardson said he hoped Pakistan – who also hosted Zimbabwe in 2015 – would be able to build on the current tour.
“It’s a long process,” said Richardson of the revival of international cricket in Pakistan.
“I think the next step is to grow capabilities, improve capabilities to areas and cities outside of Lahore itself.
“That is to build the confidence of teams like Australia and England, and all other teams that it’s safe to tour Pakistan on a more regular basis and for much lengthier periods of time.”
Lahore has hosted all the international matches played in Pakistan in the last two years.
Even before the 2009 incident, foreign teams already had concerns about touring Pakistan following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States which sparked the invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan and the “war on terror”.
Australia have not toured Pakistan since 1998 over security fears.
Richardson, a former South African wicketkeeper batsman, said Pakistan had made a lot of progress on the security front.
“I think Pakistan in the last two years has made tremendous strides in improving the security situation. Let’s get through this tour, then have other teams touring Pakistan,” said the head of cricket’s governing body.
The ICC, he said, had agreed to fund $1.1 million to assess security in Pakistan for the next three years.
“Certainly I think the intention would be to bring more and more Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches to Pakistan.
“But also to bring member countries to tour Pakistan, not a World XI tour. And that would be the ideal to have international cricket to return to Pakistan in normal circumstances.”
Pakistan staged the PSL final in March with eight foreigners including Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan of England featuring, which paved the way for the World XI tour.
Pakistan took on the ICC World XI in the second of three T20I’s at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore on Wednesday.
The hosts had beaten the star-laden visitors by 20 runs in the first game on Tuesday riding off the back of Babar Azam’s knock of 86.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and chose to bat first. His decision turned out to be a good one as his batsmen posted a daunting total of 174-5 in their allotted 20 overs.
In reply, the Faf du Plessis-led World XI managed to get over the finish line with a seven-wicket victory in a tense finish after Thisara Perera played one of the most entertaining T20I knocks.
On another massive day for Pakistan cricket, we take a look at two good and two bad performances of the match.
The tall Sri Lankan all-rounder had on off-day in the first T20I as he was carted for 51 runs off his four overs. He more than made up for it on Wednesday though as he made full use of the brute force he is known for.
Coming in to bat at the death, Perera arrived to the crease with the World XI floundering and losing its way in the middle of the innings.
Hashim Amla was tiring after his marathon knock but Perera turned the match on its head with a ferocious, unbeaten 47 off just 19 deliveries which included just one dot-ball.
With 33 runs required off the final two overs, Amla let Perera have the majority of the strike and the Sri Lankan did not disappoint as he hit five towering sixes, including the winning one off the penultimate delivery of the innings.
Such was the impact of the all-rounder’s long handle that the Pakistan supporters who were making their way to the exit stands in anticipation of a comfortable victory stopped in their tracks after seeing Perera’s late charge.
Their hearts would ultimately be broken when Perera hit Rumman Raees straight down the middle for a maximum to hand the World XI an unlikely victory.
What an innings by Thisara Perera to square the series. 47 not out off 19 balls with 5 sixes and just one dot ball. #PakvWXI
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) September 13, 2017
At one stage the World XI had done brilliantly to pull Pakistan’s batsmen back as they struggled to let loose in the middle-overs.
Babar Azam and Ahmed Shehzad had combined to put on a 59-run stand for the second-wicket but had failed to really get the acceleration that was desired on the pitch.
A late middle-order stumble meant Pakistan were in danger of settling for a well below-par score before Malik took charge.
The veteran batsman smashed three huge sixes in his 23-ball knock of 39 before being dismissed in the final delivery of the innings.
In the process Malik also became the highest run-scorer for Pakistan in T20I’s. His late assault was the sole reason the hosts crossed the 160-run mark to eventually settle on an imposing 174-6.
The Australian all-rounder took a serious beating on Wednesday as he was targeted by the Pakistan batsmen.
His use of the slower-delivery and other variations were wayward as Fakhar Zaman tore into him in his very first over.
The Aussie never really recovered from that point and was taken apart by Malik in the death overs.
Thrown the responsibility of bowling the final over of the innings, Cutting was hit for two-towering sixes by the Pakistan veteran as the over fetched 17 runs.
The pacer’s blushes were saved by Paul Collingwood who pulled off a sharp catch in the deep off the final delivery in the innings.
Cutting ultimately finished with figures of 1-52 off his four overs to cap-off a bad day in the office.
Another Aussie to end up in the wrong column, Paine has not had the best of times with the bat and wicket-keeping gloves in the Independence Cup so far.
After scoring a run-a-ball 25 in the first T20I when a faster scoring rate was needed, Paine had the platform set for him to launch away after a brisk 43-run opening stand between Tamim Iqbal and Hashim Amla.
However, the Australian found the going tough when he came onto bat. Though he managed to hit a six early into his innings, Paine struggled to get the right connection otherwise.
His scratchy time in the middle meant that momentum built by the World XI was lost as Pakistan managed to bring down the run-rate considerably.
Paine’s misery was ended by spinner Imad Wasim after he was clean-bowled to a delivery which kept low. The Aussie returned to the pavilion after a 12-ball innings which only garnered 10 runs.
In the end, the momentum lost during his stay could have proven to be costly for the World XI if not for Perera’s late assault.