Pak­istan beat World XI by 20 runs in opener

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

A BRISK half-cen­tury by Babar Azam helped Pak­istan to a 20-run vic­tory over a World XI on Tues­day, the first match of a Twenty20 se­ries which the hosts hope will lead to in­ter­na­tional cricket re­turn­ing to their coun­try.

Azam en­ter­tained the nearca­pac­ity crowd of 25,000 at the Gaddafi Sta­dium by smash­ing 86 off 52 balls, hit­ting 10 fours and two sixes in Pak­istan’s to­tal of 197-5.

The World XI’s star-stud­ded bat­ting lineup was then re­stricted to 177-7 as Pak­istan took the lead in a three-match se­ries.

“I want to ded­i­cate this in­nings to the peo­ple of Pak­istan be­cause it’s al­ways nice to play in front of home fans,” Azam said of his man-of-the-match win­ning knock.

Eight years af­ter a ter­ror at­tack on the Sri Lanka team bus in La­hore caused ma­jor teams to shun Pak­istan, the coun­try’s cricket board is hop­ing the se­ries will help to win back the con­fi­dence of test-play­ing na­tions.

The sec­ond game was to be played yes­ter­day, fol­lowed by the last match to­mor­row.

“It was a good game, I thought Pak­istan played ex­cep­tion­ally well,” World XI cap­tain South Africa’s Faf du Plessis said. “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.

Morne Morkel, one of five South African play­ers in the World XI, made an early break­through when Fakhar Za­man (8) was caught in the lone slip in the first over af­ter Du Plessis won the toss and opted to field.

But Azam, play­ing his only sec­ond in­ter­na­tional match at home, then blunted the World XI’s at­tack with a 122-run part­ner­ship off 81 balls with Ahmed She­hzad (39).

With sharper field­ing, though, both bats­men could have been re­moved ear­lier. Ben Cut­ting couldn’t hold onto a low one­handed catch off his own bowl­ing which could have dis­missed She­hzad on 7. Azam sur­vived on 64 when David Miller mis­judged an over­head catch at long-off in Morkel’s return spell. – AP

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