LAHORE: Man-of-the-match Ahmed Shehzad and bowlers helped Pakistan overwhelm World XI by 33 runs in the third Twenty20 international to annex the Independence Cup here at the jam-packed Gaddafi Stadium on Friday.
Replying to Pakistan’s 184-run target, the World XI could score only 150-8 in the allotted 20 overs, giving the hosts a comfortable victory. World XI kept on losing their wickets at the regular interval while chasing the daunting target. Thisara Perera and David Miller were their main run-getter who scored 32 runs each by playing 13 and 29 balls respectively while the other major contributor being Darren Sammy (24) and Hashim Amla (21).
Hassan Ali did most of the damage for Pakistan by returning with the figures of 2-28 in 4 overs. He was followed by Rumman Raees, Usman Khan Shinwari and Imad Wasim, who all got one wicket apiece conceding 20, 26 and 34 runs respectively. For his outstanding performance, opener Ahmed Shehzad emerged as man-of-the-match. Babar Azam was named man of the series.
Earlier, the brilliant second-wicket partnership between Ahmed Shehzad and Babar Azam lifted Pakistan to 183-4 in their innings. After the fall of Fakhar Zaman, who was run out at the total of 61 after contributing 27 runs with help of 2 fours and 1 six. During their fantastic partnership, both Shehzad and Babar played at will to punish World XI bowlers to enable Pakistan to set a daunting target. Ahmed Shahzad was all set to score a hundred but was unlucky to be run out for 89 runs, for which he stayed at the wicket for 84 minutes during which he sent the ball to the rope 8 times and thrice over it.
Babar Azam was also remained unlucky to be run out at the closing stages of the innings. He hammered 48 off 31 balls with 5 boundaries and for this, he stayed at the wicket for 54 minutes. Shoaib Malik once again amused the spectators with his fiery knock as he slammed undefeated 7-ball 17 runs which included two towering sixes.
On a placid wicket, the World XI bowlers had to toil. Thisara Perera was the only bowler of the visiting team who had to content with two wickets for 37 runs while other bowlers conceded too much runs without claiming a wicket. There were two changes in the World XI team as George Bailey and Darren Sammy replaced Tim Paine and Paul Collingwood while Pakistan team preferred Hassan Ali to Sohail Khan.
West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) chairman David Cameron and Najam Sethi also awarded medals to the players. Each member of the World XI squad – except Daren Sammy – and their support staff receive special medals from Dave Cameron.
With this third and last match, the much-talked World XI series came to an end in a successful note, giving the world a positive message that Pakistan is a safe and secure country to host all kinds of sporting events.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said: “No praise is enough for the guys. The guys have stopped eating rice and rotis. Credit to the trainers and coaches for laying down strict markers towards fitness. We were sloppy in the second game but the way we came back today was superb. This is a young team, the focus is to ensure we give them confidence and opportunities.”
World XI captain Faf du Plessis said: “This has been a huge success. We wanted to come here and play a small part in cricket coming back to Pakistan. Thank everyone for the opportunity for coming here. We were joking about it, the blokes were saying we should do this every year. For a lot of guys who don’t play a lot of international cricket these days, this was terrific competition against a strong Pakistan side. There’s lot more energy, their fielding is electric. That’s a big change. They’re as good as any team. Skills wise, yorkers, slower balls – they’re all there. We were very happy to be here and play a role. Thank you so much for the hospitality.”