LAHORE September 13: A typically elegant and eye catching 86 run innings by young batting sensation Babar Azam led Pakistan to a hard fought 20 run win over the World XI in the opening match of the Independence Cup T20I series played at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
In front of some 22,000 frenzied supporters international cricket made a grand return to Pakistan as the hosts produced a top-class batting effort to post a 197 run total on a typical batting friend Gaddafi Stadium batting track.
Babar sent the crowd into raptures with his dazzling stroke play, the local from Lahore scored 10 fours and two sixes in his 52 ball knock. Ahmed Shehzad gave Babar staunch support from the other end through his 34 ball 39 run effort, Shoaib Malik scored 38 off 20 balls, his innings included four boundaries and two sixes.
The World XI got off to a good start through Tamim Iqbal (18) and Hashim Amla who scored 26 runs. But Pakistan fought back as Rumman Raees sent both openers back to the dugout in his opening over which proved to be a decisive turning point in the game.
The World XI stayed in the hunt but the asking run-rate kept mounting, skipper du Plessis was snapped by Shoaib Malik after his 18 ball 29 while the rest of the batters failed to keep up with the momentum.
Darren Sammy provided some late fireworks with his 16 ball 29 run innings that included three sixes however it proved to be too little too late as the World XI ended their stipulated 20 overs at 177 for seven.
Raees, Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan took two wickets each for Pakistan.