It was a full house at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium and why not, the fans finally got a chance to cheer for their heroes on their home turf. And the heroes stood up to the expectations of their fans. It was Independence Cup 2017’s first of 3 T20 matches being played between Pakistan and World XI teams in which the hosts beat their guests by 20 runs.
Batting first, Pakistan scored a massive 197 runs, their fourth highest total in T20 internationals. Thanks to 52 balls 86 by Babar Azam who anchored Pakistan’s innings with a 122-runs partnership with Ahmed Shahzad and laid the platform for Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim who then scored 48 runs in last three overs. World XI, with their comparatively weak bowling attack, could do nothing to hold the locals down. Though they managed to get Fakhar Zaman in the first over itself, they could not carry the momentum any further from there.
In return, World XI could score only 177 runs to fall short by 20 runs. Though the opening pair of Hashim Amla and Tamim Iqbal started the chase with calculated shots and managed a decent start, they lost their wickets at crucial moments and could not build successive partnerships which could have carried them through. Hashim Amla was at his elegant best, providing that unique mix, grace and a brisk strike rate. At least one of them needed to bat through, but both fell in the 5th over, and the target began to fade into the distance. Faf du Plessis kept World XI in the hunt, taking 22 off a Hasan Ali over, but that proved minuscule in front of the massive target. Had they managed to sustain one partnership, the results could have been different.
Talking about the x-factors of the match, apart from Babar’s blistering performance with the bat, it was actually a well-measured display of fine bowling attack; a mix of pace and spin that made all the difference. Opening the bowling for his team, Imad Wasim knew what exactly was required of him. He knew if he could curtail the runs initially, the visitors would succumb to the pressure of shooting required run-rate later on. He gave away only 22 runs in his spell of 4 overs. On the contrary, Imran Tahir conceded 34 runs in 4 overs.
Babar Azam, for his entertaining innings of 86 runs, was named Man of the Match. Pakistan now leads the three-match series 1-0, with two games to go. The second T20I will be played at Gaddafi Stadium today i.e. September 13, 2017. Can the visitors level the series 1-1 or will Pakistan clinch the trophy 2-0! Tune in to DSport today from 06:45 p.m. IST for all the excitement and to #LiveTheGame.