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.
The second match of the three-match T20I series between Pakistan and the ICC World XI got underway at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to bat first in good conditions.
Pakistan, who won the first game of the three-match series by 20 runs on Tuesday, brought in paceman Usman Shinwari and spinner Mohammad Nawaz in place of Fahim Ashraf and the unfit Hasan Ali.
The World XI left out Darren Sammy and Grant Elliott for Paul Collingwood and Samuel Badree.
The series is aimed at reviving international cricket in Pakistan, suspended since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009.
Opener Fakhar Zaman started in much the same fashion as he started on Tuesday as he powered his way to 21 runs off just 12 deliveries with the help of four boundaries. However, the left-handed batsman perished trying to do too much too soon as he was adjudged leg-before wicket to Samuel Badree.
His partner Ahmed Shehzad, who had looked scratchy in his innings of 39 in the first T20I, looked much assured in his shot selection and timing on Wednesday as he built a steady partnership with Babar Azam.
Shehzad failed to make the most of his good start though as he was dismissed by leg-spinner Imran Tahir for a well-made 43 off 34 deliveries.
Azam struggled to replicate his touch from his match-winning innings of 86 in the first game initially but got going in the latter stages of his knock of 45 – before skying a delivery from Badree which was caught brilliantly by David Miller.
The onus of accelerating the innings at the death once again fell to Shoaib Malik and the veteran did not disappoint by smashing two huge sixes before being eventually dismissed in the final delivery of the innings for a quick-fire 39.
Score: Pakistan – 174-6 in 20 overs.
Pakistan squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz, Shadab Khan, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Rumman Raees
World XI: Faf du Plessis (captain), Hashim Amla, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Tamim Iqbal, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Tim Paine, Thisara Perera, Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree
Umpires: Shozab Raza (PAK) and Ahmed Shahab (PAK)
Tv umpire: Ahsan Raza (PAK)
ICC match referee: Richie Richardson (WI)
The return of international cricket to the country got another boost on Wednesday when Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman Najam Sethi confirmed the visit of West Indies later this November for a three-match T20I series.
This announcement comes against the backdrop of the ongoing T20I series between Pakistan and the ICC World XI, which got underway in Lahore on Tuesday.
Cricket West Indies (CWI) had last month tentatively announced a short tour to Pakistan in November but nothing had been confirmed officially.
Speaking to a local television channel, the PCB chief said that the itinerary for the visit of the Caribbean team will be announced shortly.
“The agreement with the West Indies Cricket Board has been finalised and done and they have confirmed they will come to Lahore in November to play three T20 Internationals,” Sethi said.
A few weeks earlier the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had also announced their intention of playing one of the three scheduled T20Is between the two countries, starting later this month in Lahore instead of the UAE.
Sethi has now confirmed that Sri Lanka will be visiting Lahore to play that particular T20I on October 29 – subject to security measures.
“I am still trying to convince Sri Lanka to play at least two matches in the coming series in Lahore,” he said.
The historic visit of the World XI led by Faf du Plessis is the ICC’s latest attempt to aid in the resumption of international teams touring the nation which has faced the brunt of terrorism.
In 2009, a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore had put a full stop to international cricket in Pakistan with the cricket team playing their home matches in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the UAE since then.
The first of the T20I clashes took place on Tuesday at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore under heavy-security presence with the hosts edging out the star-laden World XI by 20 runs.
A successful visit of the World XI could open the door for other teams visiting Pakistan in the near future.
It seems the tide is already turning for the Pakistan fans who have been starved of watching international cricket stars in action in their own backyards for eight years.
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) September 13, 2017
Sethi is also trying to convince Cricket South Africa (CSA) to visit the country for a short bilateral series sometime next year given that five members of the Proteas squad are a part of the World XI.
The first T20I between the hosts and the World XI saw a near sell-out crowd at the Gaddafi stadium as Pakistan cricket fans welcomed the return of proper international cricket after a long and tedious wait.
The PCB chief also confirmed that the ICC World XI would be touring the country again in 2018 and 2019 – making it an annual affair.
For now all eyes of the cricketing world will be on the remaining matches in the Independence Cup and Sethi will be hoping that Pakistan can put on a great show as the hosts.