Babar's T20 best heralds winning return for worldwide cricket in Pakistan

Babar's T20 best heralds winning return for worldwide cricket in Pakistan

Pakistan take a huge step towards reviving global cricket at home after years of isolation when they host a three-match Twenty20 series amid tight security against a star-studded World XI, starting Tuesday.

Worldwide cricket finally made its return to Pakistan and the home side got off to a winning start.

Assurances would have needed to be given, like the huge military presence that will be visible throughout the World XI's stay - not only on match-days - but also at the team's hotel and during transfers to and from the ground. Eight of them are playing at home for the first time.

The gifted Babar Azam, who grew up in Lahore, was the mainstay of the hosts' fine batting effort of 197/5. Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine too played like an ODI instead of T20I as he struggled against spinners Imad Wasim and Shadab Khan.

Whilst the ICC had made plans to send an XI consisting of top players, it was Pakistan's historic victory in the Champions Trophy which provided the necessary final impetus for the World XI's tour to become a reality. Fourth ball, back of the length delivery placed slightly outside the off stump, as the opener edged it straight to Hashim Amla at slip.

Pacers Sohail Khan, Rumman Raees and leg-spinner Shadab Khan scalped two wickets each to help their team win easily and take a 1-0 lead in the three-game series.

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.

"Our mindset is make a clean sweep in the series against World XI and all the players are committed to it by giving their best in different departments of the game".

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"We, as the World XI, would also like to offer our sympathy and condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones in terrorist acts in Pakistan".

The Independence Cup, the first to break the dry spell, is a three-match T20I series which will be staged at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, on Sept 12, 13 and 15 amid tight security.

Earlier, Babar Azam's fluent 86 off 52 balls piloted the home team to a sizeable score.

Shoaib Malik took ahead Pakistani innings with his formidable 38 runs off 20 balls.

"I am happy that I have played my part in my team's success and I am very delighted that Pakistan has beaten World XI which comprises experienced players from around the world", he said.

It is only the second time that an worldwide side has toured Pakistan since 2009 when a Sri Lankan team bus was shot at by 12 gunmen.

Pakistan reached 197-5 before restricting a star-studded World XI led by South Africa's Faf du Plessis to 177-7 at the start of the three-match series.