Kolkata: Pakistan announced the return of international cricket to their country with a series win against World XI after they defeated them by 33 runs in the third and final T20I of the Independence Cup on Friday at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore.
After Thisara Perera’s heroics had denied them a win in the last match, Sarfaraz Ahmed’s men bounced back in emphatic fashion to clinch the trophy, batting first for the third consecutive time.
Openers Fakhar Zaman (27) and Ahmed Shehzad got their team off to a flying start as they raced to 61 in just 8.1 overs before the left-hander was run-out by Darren Sammy, who tried to field of his own bowling and only helped the ball onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
But Shehzad, who had got off to good starts in the last two matches grabbed this opportunity with open arms and played a magnificent 89-run innings of just 55 balls that included eight fours and three sixes (which he hit off consecutive deliveries to become the first ever Pakistan batsman to do so in this format).
He took the attack to the opposition and was well-supported by Babar Azam, who too played well for a solid 48 from 31 balls. Veteran Shoaib Malik provided the fireworks at the end with a seven ball-17 which included two sixes.
Having posted 183 runs on the board, the Pakistan bowlers were attacked right from the word go as World XI opener Tamim Iqbal started off in dominant fashion against Imad Wasim, who bowled the first over. But the woodwork behind him was disturbed courtesy a wonderful delivery which kept low, from Usman Khan. Hashim Amla however continued from where he had left in the last game and kept picking the gaps for the boundaries to help his team keep up with the scoring rate.
But he was involved in a terrible mix-up with skipper Faf Du Plessis and unfortunately had to walk back to the pavilion for just 21. With the score at 41/3, the downslide for the World XI side further continued as they lost George Bailey (3) after he was bowled of an inside edge of the bowling of Imad Wasim.
Skipper Du Plessis, soon followed suit as he was run out for 13, courtesy a wonderful direct hit from Shadab Khan. The World XI side had now lost half their side for just 67 runs on the board in 9.5 overs.
But left-handers Thisara Perera and David Miller kept the World XI hopes of a victory alive with a brief 45-run stand. Perera, who had cleared the field easily in the last game once again looked to attack as he hit three massive sixes and two fours to score 32 runs from just 13 balls with a jaw-dropping strike rate of 246.15.
His dismissal in the 14th over meant that the match was going Pakistan’s way although Miller was still their at the crease. The South African southpaw soon fell to Hasan Ali which literally ended all hopes of a World XI victory in the deciding encounter. Darren Sammy also struggled to clear the field for the big shots and looked terribly out of touch as Pakistan restricted them to just 150/8, winning the match and the Independence Cup by 33 runs at the end.
Pakistan 183/4 (Ahmed Shehzad 89, Babar Azam 48; Thisara Perera 2/3 see SW see we re fee free beat World XI 150/8 (Thisara Perera 32, David Miller 32; Hasan Ali 2/28) by 33 runs.