The hosting of the short series is a major step towards convincing international teams to begin touring Pakistan again, with Sri Lanka already due to play a Twenty20 match in Lahore on October 29.

Pakistan’s cricket team members celebrate winning the Independence Cup after defeating World XI team at Ghaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan September 15, 2017.
Pakistan’s cricket team members celebrate winning the Independence Cup after defeating World XI team at Ghaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore, Pakistan September 15, 2017. (Reuters)

Pakistan beat the touring World XI on Friday by 33 runs in the final Twenty20 fixture in Lahore to win the three match series 2-1 and thrill home fans excited by the return of international cricket.

Buoyed by a 102-run second-wicket stand between opener Ahmed Shehzad and batsman Babar Azam, Pakistan reached 183 for four in their 20 overs before restricting the star-studded World XI team led by South African captain Faf du Plessis to 150 for eight.

Pakistan has only hosted one international series since militants attacked a bus transporting the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. Six players were wounded in the attack, in which two civilians and six security officers lost their lives.

Backed by the International Cricket Council (ICC), the series has been heralded as the return of international cricket.

“We are over the moon. The people of Pakistan are delirious. We think that we have opened the door for the return of international cricket,” Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Najam Sethi said.

Sri Lanka have agreed to visit Pakistan for one match at the end of September and West Indies are planning to send a team later in the year, Sethi said.

Gracious in defeat, Du Plessis praised the Pakistan team and said he would welcome more opportunities to tour the country.

“We were talking about it and saying this needs to happen every year,” he said.

Many members of Pakistan’s young cricket-mad population, 60 percent of which is under 25, have not had a chance to watch live cricket at home.
Many members of Pakistan’s young cricket-mad population, 60 percent of which is under 25, have not had a chance to watch live cricket at home. (Reuters)

Frenzied fans packed the stands of the 60,000 capacity Gaddafi Stadium, cheering almost equally for both teams. Many members of Pakistan’s young cricket-mad population, 60 percent of which is under 25, have not had a chance to watch live cricket at home.

“We owe all players of the visiting team for helping Pakistan restore international cricket in the country,” Lahore resident Uzma Hussain said.

Even before the 2009 attack, tours to the country had become infrequent with many teams refusing to visit due to security concerns.

Lahore was on high-alert during the matches, with heightened security measures enforced across the city. Commuters were forced to plan alternate routes and avoid driving in the vicinity of the stadium.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies