Kolkata: South African skipper Faf Du Plessis has been selected to lead the World XI side against Pakistan in the Independence Cup consisting of three T20I’s scheduled to be held in Lahore on the 12th, 13th and 15th of September this year.
Du Plessis would lead the 14-man squad in the matches that will be given an international status and he is one among the five South Africans to be a part of the team. The others are- Hashim Amla, lanky paceman Morne Morkel, aggressive left-hander David Miller and leg-spinner Imran Tahir.
On his appointment as the skipper of the World XI side, the 33-year old Du Plessis said, “I am honoured to have been appointed as captain of such a diverse, attractive and well-balanced side. Like most of the players, I look forward to my maiden tour to Lahore and play my part in the safe and gradual resumption of international cricket in Pakistan.”
He also added, “All the members of the squad have complete faith and trust in the assessment and judgement of the security experts, who have assured us that there will be no comprise on the safety and security of all those involved in the series. As professionals, we are getting paid to play in the series, but the bottom-line is that if we didn’t feel safe, no amount of money would get us there. In this background, we will land in Lahore with nothing except cricket in our minds.”
The Proteas skipper further said that he couldn’t wait to experience playing in front of the Pakistani crowd, who are going to see their cricketing heroes take on some of the best and biggest names in the business after a very long time.
“In my career, I have featured in some very exciting matches against Pakistan but playing Pakistan in front of its passionate supporters will be a unique occasion, which I can’t wait to experience. As a player, I understand the importance of playing in front of home crowds and that is something I’m sure the Pakistan players will relish.”
Three Australians in the form of George Bailey, wicketkeeper batsman Tim Paine and Ben Cutting were picked for the World XI side which also has two players from the West Indies-Darren Sammy and Samuel Badree.
Also, the 14-man squad includes T20 World Cup winning England skipper Paul Collingwood and Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh), Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka) and Grant Elliot (New Zealand).
The team would be coached by former Zimbabwe cricketer and England coach Andy Flower.
An excited Najam Sethi after the announcement of the World XI team, said, “On behalf of the Pakistan Cricket Board and the cricket loving public, I welcome the ICC World XI team to Pakistan to play in the three-match T20 series…This will be an auspicious moment for Pakistan cricket and I am positive that it will serve to open the doors of international cricket in Pakistan. Kenya and Zimbabwe have already been here and featured in high-voltage matches with rapturous crowds.”
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, who led his country to the Champions Trophy final beating India in the final said, “I am really excited to see the World XI team coming to Pakistan and keenly look forward to playing in front of our committed crowds and supporters. I can assure all Pakistan cricket fans that we have missed playing in front of them, like they have missed watching us live in action. But this wait is about to end and I am sure better times lie ahead of all of us.’
He further added, “I am confident that through this tour of the World XI, the global cricket community, including players, media and visitors will get a better understanding and perception of Pakistan, which is a peace-loving and extremely hospitable nation that loves its cricket.”
Ever since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus way back in 2009, the gates of international cricket has been shut in the country and Pakistan was made to play their ‘home’ games in the UAE.
The Independence Cup thus would be one of the biggest steps for international cricket to return to Pakistan. Also with the local government in Punjab assuring a tight security, a cracker of a series awaits us.
World XI squad: Faf du Plessis (capt, SA), Hashim Amla (SA), Samuel Badree (WI), George Bailey (Aus), Paul Collingwood (E), Ben Cutting (Aus), Grant Elliott (NZ), Tamim Iqbal (Ban), David Miller (SA), Morne Morkel (SA), Tim Paine (Aus), Thisara Perera (SL), Imran Tahir (SA), Darren Sammy (WI).