Thu, Sep 14, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Pakistan celebrate international revival

AFP, LAHORE, Pakistan

Pakistan batsman Babar Azam plays a shot against the World XI during their Twenty20 match at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan, on Tuesday.

Photo: AP

Pakistan on Tuesday took a giant step toward reviving international cricket at home with a 20-run victory over a World XI in a match before excited crowds amid tight security.

The Twenty20 match, accorded international status by the International Cricket Council, is the first game of only the second series Pakistan has hosted since militants attacked the bus of the visiting Sri Lanka team in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring seven players and staff.

Long before it began at 7pm, about 9,000 police officers and paramilitary forces were deployed to the area, cordoning off the teams’ hotels and stadium.

However, the large security presence did little to temper the enthusiasm of fans.

“I came here early to watch the teams come, but that was not possible due to security, so I only watched them in the ground and it made my day,” spectator Azfar Ali said.

Pakistan, sent into 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 fours and two sixes.

The World XI started off well with Tamim Iqbal hitting 18 with three boundaries and Hashim Amla smashing three fours 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.

“It was a historic occasion and I thank the crowd for coming in good numbers,” Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said.

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