With quiescence of international cricket at home since the devastating terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus, the PCB finally ingathered gold by way of bringing fourteen different players of eight different nationalities to Pakistan for the Independence Cup. The teams were to play three international T20s at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The statisticians and historians of the game have a divided opinion on the status of matches featuring ICC World XI or Asia XI teams. Their argument is well supported by the fact that international cricket is and should only be played between two countries but others exemplify West Indies – a team of fifteen different Caribbean countries and territories, connected by this great sport.
Amid all this, the matches of the Independence Cup had international status and will find its place in the record books. Pakistan won the first match of the series by 20 runs. World XI came back strong in the second T20 riding on Thisara Perera and gunned down Pakistan’s 174 with seven wickets in hand. With the series tied at 1-1, Pakistan reaffirmed their supremacy in the final showdown and triumphed with a 33-run win. With the series done and dusted, here’s a look back at the numbers from the Independence Cup from a statistician’s eye:
Twenty two teams that had played international twenty-20s before this series. ICC World XI became the 23rd team to play this format of the game.
Imran Tahir had returned to play a professional cricket match in Pakistan for the first time since 17th November, 2006.
Babar Azam became Imran Tahir’s first wicket at the Gaddafi since he dismissed Ali Imran to help Lahore Lions win the ABN-AMRO One Day Cup 2004-05. Babar Azam was only 10 years old at that time.
In 20 of the last 24 T20 matches at the Gaddafi Stadium, teams have chosen to field first after winning the toss. Off these 20 times, only four times have teams failed to chase a target – twice by World XI in this series.
1719 – Runs scored by Shoaib Malik in international T20s, most by any Pakistani surpassing Umar Akmal’s tally of 1690 runs.
Pakistani batsman Shoaib Malik plays a shot during the second T20 International match between the World
Gaddafi Stadium has already seen teams successfully chase a target of 170+ in three of the five T20Is. Only Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai and the Wanderers in Johannesburg have seen more, four each, chases of totals in excess of 170.
Hashim Amla’s fifty in the second T20 came off 37 balls, slowest T20I fifty in Pakistan. Ahmed Shehzad’s fifty in the third T20 also came in 37 balls.
Hashim Amla has scored only one fifty in his first thirty T20 internationals. In the next 11 matches, he has scored six 50s.
Only once had a batting pair contributed for two century-partnerships in a bilateral T20I series, Brendon McCullum and Martin Guptill vs Zimbabwe in 2011. Ahmed Shehzad and Babar became the second pair to repeat this feat.
Babar Azam & Ahmed Shezad: The Consistent Pair
No Pakistani batsman had scored at least 35 in all of the matches of 3-match bilateral T20I series. This series saw Ahmed Shehzad and Babar Azam both achieve this unique record.
201 is the number of sixes hit by Shoaib Malik in twenty-20s. Shahid Afridi is the only other Pakistani to hit 200 or more sixes in the format.
Babar Azam’s run tally in the Independence Cup is 179, most by any Pakistani in a bilateral T20I series. Ahmed Shehzad scored 171 runs in the series; second most by any Pakistani in a series.
Babar Azam’s tally is also only behind to Virat Kohli for a three-match series who scored 199 runs vs Australia in 2016.
Four is the number of times Ahmed Shehzad has been involved in a century-partnership in T20Is; most by any Pakistani jointly with Shoaib Malik & Mohammad Hafeez who have shared four 100-run stands each.
Babar Azam’s average in T20 internationals is 54.00; highest by any batsman playing the format. Virat Kohli is only behind with an average of 53.82 (minimum qualification: 10 innings batted).
First – Rumman Raess has become the first bowler to bowl a maiden in a T20I in Pakistan. Morne Morkel came close in the first T20I by bowling five dot balls in a row.
Pakistan affected three run-outs during the third T20; most they have affected in a T20 innings, jointly against Sri Lanka in Aug 2015.
Shadab Khan leads new generation of players who have transformed team's fielding
This is the first time that Pakistan has won a 3-match T20I series tied at 1-1 before the final match. They had lost the deciders earlier vs England in 2012 and vs New Zealand in 2016.