Courtesy marvellous innings by Babar Azam, Pakistan won the first match of the Independence Cup by defeating World XI by 20 runs. The home side is now 1-0 up in the series of three T20 matches.
Chasing 198 runs, World XI managed to score 177 runs with the loss of seven wickets. Sohail Khan, Rumman Raees and Shadab Khan took two wickets each.
Middle order batsman Azam was awarded Man of the Match for his sure-footed inning of 86 off 52 balls.
Speaking in the post match ceremony, Azam said: “There was no pressure. It was just a slow wicket, so I thought I’ll take my time and play my natural game. Once I got a partnership with Ahmed Shehzad, I just wanted to take it as far as I could.”
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed stated: “It was a very important match, after Champions Trophy. No praise is too high for our players, especially Babar Azam, and the way Ahmed Shehzad played, and the way Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim finished the innings. We’ve got some very good players, which is why the selection committee is giving them a lot of opportunities. Our fitness is getting better day after day, and the humidity today was a test of it, and we passed it.”
Captain of the visiting side, Faf du Plessis said: “It was a good game, I thought Pakistan played exceptionally well. I thought it was a 180 wicket, so maybe we gave away 20 runs too many. Our bowling was possibly one-dimensional. They had a lot of variety, spinners, left-arm, right-arm. It was a great occasion to play here, and as soon as we walked into the field, it was just a normal game. I needed to get a 50 or 60 for us to win. Quick turnaround, I don’t think I’ve ever played two T20s in two days. Great to play in front of the Pakistani fans, hopefully next two games we can get a full house.”
World XI openers Hashim Amla and Tamim Iqbal had steadily kicked off the innings against Pakistan. Both the batsmen challenged the home side’s bowling attack effectively before the entry of Raees.
Pakistan got their first breakthrough as fast bowler Raees dismissed Iqbal by bolding him out in his first over. World XI lost its first wicket on 43 runs.
In the same over, Raees also took the wicket of in-form Hashim Amla. Pakistan diluted all the pressure the openers had built against it.
With Amla’s dismissal, Skipper Faf du Plessis came on the crease. The skipper played a brief but a classic inning of 29 off 18 balls, which included four boundaries and a six.
Shadab Khan gave the home side the breakthrough it needed by dismissing Du Plessis on a googly.
Middle order batsman Tim Paine was not able to play a decisive inning as he departed on 25 off 25 after falling prey to a delivery by Sohail Khan.
The next man in was David Miller. The South African batsman looked dangerous for the Pakistani side as he hit Shadab Khan out of the ground. But in a dramatic turn of the match, Khan, who was hit for a six a ball before, trapped him for stumps. Miller departed on nine.
Fortunately for Pakistan, the famous PSL ‘bat-drop’ from Grant Elliot did not happen tonight. The Kiwi batsman was dismissed on a slow-ball by fast bowler Sohail Khan when he was on eight runs.