The revival of International Cricket in Pakistan started off on a high as the hosts handed over a 20-run victory to a strong World XI side. Pakistan looked clinical in all three departments, which will definitely put them in a strong position as we progress into this series. Their batting did well with some standout performances from Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik.
The visiting team have a lot of thinking to do before the start of second game. Their bowling struggled on most stages of the game which provided an easy let off to the Pakistan batsmen. As a batting unit, they have to find ways to rotate strike especially against the spinners.
It should be an interesting contest despite some average performance from the touring side.
Pakistan will be hoping to continue with their winning streak and get an unassailable lead in this three-match series.
Pakistan’s batting was a bit of a concern in the build-up towards the first game but it showed positive signs despite losing Fakhar Zaman in the first over. Their bowling attack still remains their strong suit as it has a lot of variety in it.
Rumman Raees showed how critical change-ups of pace can be whereas Imad Wasim kept things very tight in the powerplay as well as after that. Shadab chipped in with the combination of leg-breaks and googlies - which he has been renowned for.
World XI’s batting still holds a bit of an edge but they have to complement each other well in order to succeed. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis showed signs of danger but one of them has to get to a big score to create more impact on the game. As a batting unit, they surely can punch the opposition.
Babar Azam stroked a magnificent 52-ball 86 in the first game despite losing an early wicket. Although he’ll be disappointed for not converting it into his maiden T20I ton, but his performances in the limited overs cricket are getting better day by day which is a positive sign for Pakistan cricket. He is someone the opposition will watch out for.
Shoaib Malik has the ability to anchor as well as accelerate – depending on the match situation. In the first game, he had to opt for acceleration as he gave some serious blows towards the end of innings – hammering 38 off just 20 balls.
Hashim Amla looked in sublime touch in the opening game. Some of his shots, including a back foot punch through mid-on off Sohail Khan’s bowling and a launch over cover region off Hassan Ali showed how classy and brutal he can be without any real fuss. He was undone brilliantly by a slower ball from Rumman Raees but can make a real difference at the top of the order.
Faf du Plessis is another player who will be discussed in the team meetings. In the first game, he took apart the best bowler of the Champion’s Trophy, Hassan Ali – scooping twice towards fine-leg and then smashing him down the ground. Pakistan have to be very crystal clear in their plans on where to bowl at du Plessis else he can ring some bells.