Pakistan won twice on September 12, 2017. First, by welcoming cricket back on their soil. Second, by starting their new chapter in international cricket with a win. In their first major international game at home in eight years, the hosts beat the World XI side by 20 runs at the country’s famed Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore to take a 1-0 lead in the three-T20Is series.
After winning the toss, the visiting side, led by Faf du Plessis, opted to bowl first. Young Babar Azam led Pakistan’s batting with his 52-ball 86 during which he smashed 10 fours and two maximums. Azam was well supported by Ahmed Shehzad (39) and Shoaib Malik (38). In their 20 overs, the hosts collectively put up a target of 197 on the board.
Thisara Perera, who became the first Sri Lankan cricketer to play cricket in Pakistan after the 2009 attack, picked up two wickets for the World XI.
The visitors fell 20 runs short of the target. None of the batsmen from their famed batting line-up could go past 30 runs. Sohail Khan, who made his international return after six years, kept the visiting batsmen on check as he gave only 28 runs in his four overs while also picking up two crucial wickets.
The World XI needed 35 runs of the last over, something rare for a side boasting of talented and veteran players from across the world. That was how Pakistan dominated in all three facets of the game. They had a cricket-starved home crowd to gift the match to.
“It was an important game. Babar and Shehzad played really well. Shoaib Malik did well towards the end. There's lot of talent in the domestic circuit and I'm sure many youngsters will get their chances in the future,” said an elated Sarfraz Ahmed after leading his side to an easy win.
The second of the three-T20Is will be played tomorrow at the same venue.