Babar Azam’s 52-ball 86 set up the perfect return of cricket to Pakistan as they beat the World XI by 20 runs in Lahore on Tuesday.
It was a historic day for Pakistan as their fans got to see their side run out on their home turf once again. The last time the country hosted an international game was in 2015 when Zimbabwe played three ODIs and two T20s.
World XI captain, Faf du Plessis, won the toss and elected to bowl first in Lahore.
Despite losing star opener Fakhar Zaman to Morne Morkel in the opening over, it was a dominant batting performance from the hosts, led by Babar.
The 22-year-old’s innings was supported by a vital partnership with Ahmed Shehzad as they put on a 122-run second-wicket stand to take their side to 130-2 in 14.1 overs.
This set the perfect platform for the experienced Shoaib Malik to walk out to the crease, as the veteran hit four fours and two sixes, despite losing Babar just 12 runs into his arrival to the crease and Shehzad on 39 on the last ball of the 18th over.
Taking his side to 182-4, Shoaib too, lost his wicket to depart on a 20-ball 38, as Pakistan were restricted to 197-5 in their 20 overs.
Hasim Amla (26 off 17 balls) and Tamim Iqbal (18) got the visitors off to a great start, as they neared the 50-run mark into the sixth over, but a double from Rumman Raees saw them pinned back at 48-2 by the end of the over.
A solid 53-run partnership between Du Plessis (29 off 18 balls) and Tim Paine (25) saw the World XI past the 100-run-mark, but Du Plessis’ scalp saw their temporary fight-back wither.
Two wickets from Sohail Khan and Shadab Khan seemed to be enough from Pakistan as they throttled the visitors, who found themselves in no-man’s land at 145-6 with 3.3 overs remaining.
With the game already out of the World XI’s reach, Darren Sammy (29 off 16 balls) hit three sixes for an exciting end to the game, but Pakistan emerged victorious with a 20-run win.
Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images