The PSL final was held earlier this year in Lahore, and thankfully, it was smooth sailing for all parties involved as an emotionally charged occasion came off incident free. Despite that, none of us would have anticipated more international cricket stars to visit Pakistan anytime soon. The newly elected PCB chairman Najam Sethi and his team deserve all the appreciation they are currently receiving, as they’ve managed to pull off something special here. We will be fortunate enough to witness not just one, but three T20Is in Lahore under the leadership of the dynamic South African captain, Faf du Plessis. He will be accompanied by 13 other international players comprising the World XI side, with Andy Flower coaching the team.
“Happy to play a small part in bringing cricket back to Pakistan”- Faf Du Plessis
Pakistan’s hopes of playing further international cricket at home are pinned completely upon the success of the World XI tour. If the tour goes off without any trouble, Sri Lanka has agreed to play a T20 in Lahore the following month. If all of this goes according to plan, a three match T20 series against West Indies will be staged in November.
Here is a look at the top 5 international players to watch out for in the World XI side.
Hashim Amla is among the few players in the world XI squad who have toured Pakistan before. However his last outing wasn’t a memorable one; in the two test matches he played, all he managed to score was a total of 98 runs in four innings. That Amla is a thing from the past though. This current one is been hellbent on breaking ODI records while continuing to prove to be one of the top test batsmen over the years.
It will be an honour for the home country to host this legend of the game one more time and witness his greatness unfold. Hopefully the crowd at Gaddafi will witness his majestic cover drives and eloquent flicks. This might be the last time that cricket lovers in our country get to watch the (mighty) Hash embarrass a bowling lineup so we'll all be hoping for an epic innings or two.
King Darren Sammy returns to Lahore just six months after guiding his side Peshawar Zalmi to a PSL trophy at the same venue. Saying that it will be a special occasion for him and his fans all over Pakistan to see him back in action is a bit of an understatement.
Sammy’s popularity can be judged by the fact that fans suggested an honorary citizenship for Sammy at the end of PSL 2
The fact that Sammy has an international stadium named after him in St. Lucia tells you a bit about the respect he receives from his countrymen. Sammy would probably have another stadium in his name in Pakistan if the love he receives over here was translated. His popularity can be judged by the fact that fans suggested an honorary citizenship for Sammy at the end of PSL 2. That also has to do with the fact that the charismatic all-rounder knows how to hit those sixes out of the park and flash a grin at the same time. Here’s to hoping that Darren Sammy continues to entertain the crowds with his batting and on-field antics.
Tamim Iqbal plays for the current PSL champions Peshawar Zalmi. He couldn’t accompany his side during the final which was held in Lahore earlier this year. His fans in Pakistan don’t need to wait any longer. They will get to see their Zalmi hero back in action. Tamim Iqbal is also familiar with the pitch conditions at Gaddafi Stadium. He featured in four ODIs on the same venue and has an aggregate score of 136 from there.
Tamim has enjoyed quite a lot of success while playing for his country and the T20 sides he’s been representing over the years.
Grant Elliott played in the PSL for the franchise Lahore Qalandars. In one of the most exciting group encounters against Islamabad United, Elliott sealed the match for his side with a six in the last over. The bat dropping celebration that followed the six is what made it even more significant; it took the internet by storm and was tagged as the ‘Bat Drop’. This wasn’t the first ever match winning six of his career (remember the 2015 World Cup semifinal?) and it will be only fitting if he manages to emulate the feat and the celebration in front of his PSL team’s home crowd.
Grant Elliott's 'Bat Drop' moment during PSL 2017
His overall T20I record against Pakistan isn’t all that good, and as this will be his first ever tour to Pakistan and it is the perfect time to improve his overall record. Even if that is not the case, he has already managed to etch his place in our hearts with his gritty performances and deserves our utmost respect for his role in reviving cricket in Pakistan.
Well, look who's back in his hometown. No, not our beloved ex-PM but our former prodigal u-19 star who’s probably one of the best leg-spinners in the game right now. Yeah, you’ve guessed it right, none other than the ‘let me celebrate every wicket like there’s no tomorrow’ wicket taking machine himself, Imran Tahir.
Imran Tahir will be playing in his hometown, in front his very own people in an international match for the first time in his career. Let that sink in for a moment. It goes without saying that this will be a more than special occasion for him. Let’s hope all of this translates into the most epic wicket celebrations that the cricket world has yet witnessed. His wife and kid will also accompany him on this tour. Here’s to hoping that Tahir is still familiar with the pitches where he mastered the art of leg-spin in the earlier part of his career.
12th, 13th and 15th September- mark these dates in your calendars everyone. Get your tickets right now if you haven’t already. This is one party you don’t want to miss out on.