A young and buoyant Pakistan take on the World XI in the second T20 match of the Independence Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium today, as the Faf du Plessis-led side looks to bounce back after facing a 20-run defeat in the series opener last night.
Fast bowler Hasan Ali is likely to miss the second T20. Sources informed that Ali has complained of back pain and will be rested for the second match.
Pakistan on Tuesday took a giant step towards reviving international cricket at home with a 20-run victory over the World XI in a match before excited crowds amid tight security.
The Green Shirts, sent in to bat by World XI skipper Faf du Plessis, notched 197-5 with Babar Azam hitting a rapid 52-ball 86. His career best Twenty20 score had 10 boundaries and two sixes.
Azam added 122 for the second wicket with Ahmed Shehzad (39) as Pakistan built on the loss of opener Fakhar Zaman for eight.
Shoaib Malik smashed a 20-ball 38 with two sixes and four boundaries to give the final touches to the innings.
The World XI started off well with Tamim Iqbal hitting 18 with three boundaries and Hashim Amla smashing three boundaries and a six in his 17-ball 26 but left-arm pacer Rumman Raees dismissed both in the same over to put the brakes on their innings.
Skipper Faf du Plessis hit four boundaries and a six while Darren Sammy smashed three sixes — both scoring 29 — but were unable to see their team through.
For Pakistan, paceman Sohail Khan and leg-spinner Shadab Khan finished with two wickets apiece.
Du Plessis blamed his dismissal for the team´s loss. “I needed to get a 50 or 60 for us to win,” he said, adding that it was “great to play in front of the Pakistani fans”.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed thanked the crowd. “It was a historic occasion and I thank the crowd for coming in good numbers,” he said.
“It was a very important match and I think no praise is too high for our players, especially Azam.”
About tonight’s second game of the series, Du Plessis said it would be a “quick turnaround, I don´t think I´ve ever played two T20s in two days”.
Pakistan hopes the series will showcase an improved security situation as it seeks to entice other foreign opponents. Sri Lanka are due to play a T20 in October, and will be followed by the West Indies who are due to play a mini-series of three T20s in November.
Tuesday marked the first time that five of Pakistan players — Ashraf, Zaman, Shadab, Raees and Hasan Ali — played an international match on home soil.