The landmark Independence series ended in Lahore on Friday with Pakistan’s victory against the star studded World XI side, led by South Africa’s Faf du Plessis, to take a 2-1 win.
The three match series was more than just cricket for Pakistan as numerous side-effects to Pakistan Cricket were directly linked with success of the series, but the cricketing impact of the series can’t be neglected. While the PCB successfully managed to tell the world that it is capable of hosting international events successfully and securely, the players in middle proved that they’re at the top of their respective forms.
Babar Azam scored 179 runs in three matches and gained a significant raise in the ICC ranking for batsmen in T20 cricket. Similarly, opening batsman Ahmed Shahzad also proved that he’s not yet written off, by scoring 171 runs in three innings with an amazing average of 57.00
Babar Azam & Ahmed Shezad have been the most consistent players for Pakistan in the series
The first match of the series was smooth sailing for Pakistan. Faf du Plessis, after winning the toss, invited Pakistan to bat first and the decision immediately proved to be a correct one when Fakhar Zaman was sent back to pavilion by Morkel for 8 runs on 4th delivery of the first over.
But, after the first wicket, Ahmed Shahzad and Babar Azam turned the tables by adding 122 runs for the second wicket. Ahmad scored 39 while Azam missed a golden opportunity to become only second Pakistani to score T20I century and got out for 86.
Azam scored a brilliant 86
Shoaib Malik, with 38 off 20 deliveries, and Imad Wasim, with a late charge towards the innings, helped Pakistan post 197 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in 20 overs.
After a good display by the batsmen, it was time for Pakistan’s bowlers to showcase their skills and they did it perfectly by restricting World XI to 177 runs.
Shadab Khan, Rumman Raees and Sohail Khan got two wickets apiece to help Pakistan complete a 20 runs win.
After going down in the first match, the World XI fought back strongly in the second match and exploited the weaknesses of Pakistan’s bowling line, which was the absence of its main strike bowler, Hassan Ali.
Batting first in the second match, Pakistan managed to post a par total of 174/6 on board with Babar Azam and Ahmed Shahzad scoring 45 and 43 respectively and Shoaib Malik adding 39 from the 23 deliveries he faced.
However, Pakistani bowlers failed to defend 174 runs as the South African virtuoso Hashim Amla outclassed the Pakistani attack by smashing them all over the ground. Amla scored 72 off 55 deliveries and along with Thisara Perera scored 51 runs off last four overs, exposing Pakistan’s weak attack in the death overs.
Perera finished the game in style
In the third match, Pakistan looked a completely different team. Quality batting, disciplined bowling and outstanding fielding by the boys in green ensured Pakistan’s fightback in the series.
Ahmad Shahzad, with a brilliant 89 off 55, announced the return of his form, while Babar Azam continued to wow onlookers, but fell short of his half century as Pakistan posted 183 for the loss of four wickets in twenty overs.
Pakistan’s unbelievably brilliant efforts while defending the total shocked everyone as three of World XI batsmen got run-out, including Faf du Plessis who was surprised by young Shadab Khan with his lightning reactions.
Shadab Khan has been electric in the field throughout the series
Hassan Ali, who returned to Pakistan’s squad after missing the second game, got two wickets. Imaad Wasim, Usman Khan Shinwari and Rumman Raees got one wicket each as Pakistan won the decisive match by 33 runs in front of a jam packed Gaddaffi stadium.
As the eventual result reflected, the World XI vs Pakistan series was a contest between a group of players and a proper team. But it also provided Pakistan’s players a chance to prove themselves against some of the best from the world of cricket. All the games were equally well fought, especially the last one in which Pakistan showed its class and that too its bowling class in a format which is usually dominated by the batsmen. All in all, it was as successful a series as the organisers could have hoped for.