Kolkata: Right-handed Babar Azam’s magnificent 86 and a decent bowling performance ensured that international cricket in Pakistan returned with a bang as they defeated World XI by 20 runs in the first of the three T20I series in Lahore.
World XI skipper Faf Du Plessis won the toss and decided to bowl first. Although his plan paid off at the beginning as countryman Morne Morkel sent back explosive opener Fakhar Zaman (6) to the hut quite early in the innings, what followed next set the tone for the home team. Azam joined forces with Ahmed Shehzad (39) to stitch a 122-run stand to ensure that Pakistan did not lose too many in an effort to post a decent total.
Azam played one of the best innings of his life and batting against the likes of Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir, the 22-year-old local boy struck a total of 10 fours and two sixes. He took the attack to the World XI bowlers and did not let them settles down and find their rhythm. It was his innings that gave Pakistan the control over the match and which actually turned out to be the difference maker at the end.
Veteran Shoaib Malik, too chipped in with some runs as he hit four fours and two sixes pile up 38 runs from just 20 balls. Imad Wasim was the provided the momentum to the Pakistani innings, playing a 15-run cameo to make sure that the target set would pose a challenge to the opposition.
World XI openers Tamil Iqbal and Hashim Amla began on a cautious note, scoring 43 from 5.2 overs. But both of them were dismissed in the same over by left-arm paceman Rumman Raees.
However wicketkeeper batsman Tim Paine (25) and skipper Du Plessis (29) took control of the chase sharing a 53-run stand but once again, the both of them fell in a short span of time to help Pakistan gain an upper hand in the contest.
Shadab Khan, the 18-year-old leggie bowled with accuracy to get his second wicket of the match dismissing the dangerous David Miller for just 9 runs. Although there were cameos from the bats of Grant Elliot (14), Thisara Perera (17) and Darren Sammy (29), it wasn’t enough to overhaul the Pakistani total as they fell short by just 20 runs to concede a 1-0 lead to the home team in the three match T20I series. Sohail Khan and Raees
scalped two wickets apiece.
Pakistan- 197/5 (Babar Azam 86, Ahmed Shehzad 39; Thisara Perera 2/51) beat World XI 177/5 ( Darren Sammy 29, Hashim Amla 26; Sohail Khan 2/28) by 20 runs.