Independence Cup: Amla, Perera take resurgent World XI to thrilling victory

Thisara Perera smashed the winning six for a resurgent World XI side as they conquered the 175-run target with seven wickets to spare in the nail-biting second match of the Twenty20 international (T20I) Independence Cup series at Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

Thisara Perera smashed the winning six for a resurgent World XI side as they conquered the 175-run target with seven wickets to spare in the nail-biting second match of the Twenty20 international (T20I) Independence Cup series at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday.

Opener Hashim Amla set the stage for a World XI win with a 72-run-strong performance studded by five 4s and two 6s, remaining not out at the end of the innings.

However, it was Perera’s (47) aggressive five 6s that led the side to victory with one ball left in the game. He was awarded Player of the Match.

The star-studded international side fought tooth-and-nail to keep the series alive following their defeat to the green shirts last night. Both will be facing off for the Independence Cup in the final match of the series on Sept 15 at Gaddafi Stadium.

Skipper Faf du Plessis was the last man out, off Mohammad Nawaz’s bowling, right after he hit a six. He scored 20 runs off 14 balls with two 6s under his belt. Tamim Iqbal was caught by Shoaib Malik off Sohail Khan, leaving the pitch with 23 runs, whereas wicket-keeper Tim Paine was bowled by Imad Wasim for 10.

The World XI restricted Pakistan to a target of 174 runs for the loss of six wickets in the first innings, which was bolstered by two partnerships featuring Ahmed Shehzad paired up with Fakhar Zaman and then Babar Azam.

Babar, who was awarded man of the match in yesterday’s game, today scored 45 runs in the first innings. He and Shehzad held it steady in the middle, racking up 59 runs between the two of them before Shehzad fell for 43.

Babar was caught out at 45 off Samuel Badree as his stand with Malik looked to threaten the World XI.

Shoaib Malik today became Pakistan’s top T20I run-scorer with 1,702 runs in the format.

The green shirts lost four wickets in the last five overs of the innings as Shoaib, Babar, Imad Wasim, and Sarfraz Ahmed were all caught out.

Imad gave Imran Tahir a simple catch while trying to get a boundary off Thisara Perera. Skipper Sarfraz got out on his first ball, also caught by Tahir.

Sarfraz won the toss today and opted to bat first. Former Zimbabwe cricketer Pommie Mbangwa predicted that the pitch, which looked less dry today, was one “most teams won’t mind batting second on”.

Both teams made two changes to their lineups, with Pakistan swapping out Faheem Ashraf and Hassan Ali for Mohammad Nawaz and Usman Shinwari.

The World XI had Samuel Badree and Paul Collingwood come in for Darren Sammy and Grant Elliott. This was Collingwood’s first international match in six years. He played his last match in the 2011 World Cup against Bangladesh.

Skipper Faf du Plessis at the toss today said: “Obviously we play to win. You don’t rock up on the cricket field to just go out and have fun. This tour is not just about cricket, it’s even beyond.”

However, he added, it was “nice to play some cricket here. Nice to play with a few of the mates.”

On Tuesday night, Babar Azam led an inspired Pakistan side to a 20-run victory in the opening match of the series against the star-studded World XI side.

Man of the Match Babar laid the foundation for Pakistan’s big total with a fluent 52-ball innings laced with 10 boundaries and a brace of sixes.

The batsman lit up Gaddafi Stadium with a brilliant 86 to help Pakistan amass 197-5 in the T20I before the hosts restricted the World XI to 177-7.

It is hoped the World XI’s tour will spark the full return of international cricket to the country and the first match towards that goal didn’t disappoint.

Teams

Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c)(wk), Muhammad Nawaz, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari and Rumman Raees.

World XI: Tamim Iqbal, Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis (c), David Miller, Paul Collingwood, Thisara Perera, Tim Paine (wk), Ben Cutting, Samuel Badree, Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir.

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