Pakistan cricket is yet to embrace their very independence moment along with the World XI squad today. It is indeed an excellent gesture from ICC to organize a spectacle between Pakistan and World XI. The major aim lies in executing such gesture is reviving international cricket in the country where cricket was barred. And rightly, they named it Independence Cup, comprising three T20 internationals.
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As a testimony of the above facts, we all had witnessed the PSL Final earlier this year which was a big hit at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. The Pakistan government had beefed up the security to ensure international players across the globe did not opt out. The spectators came in big numbers and enjoyed the final without any trouble. Fans, cricketers, broadcasters, organizers, PCB, everyone had a good time, watching quality cricket — something the country had been barring from hosting after the infamous terror attack on the Sri Lankan team in 2009. Ever since only Zimbabwe and Afghanistan dared to tour Pakistan.
World XI simply eyes to flame the Pakistani soil under the leadership of newly appointed skipper Faf du Plessis. He is also the T20I captain of South Africa. Ahead of the first match, du Plessis said, “It’s not every day you get an opportunity to play in something that is much more than just about yourself and your own team or your own country.”
He is absolutely right in his part as the entire drive brought forth keeping cricket in our major concern. Misbah-ul-Haq had taken Pakistan to No. 1 in Tests without leading his team on own soil. They, at last, shift their base to UAE, a place that witnesses only a handful of spectators. The only noise that echoed the stadiums was that of the modern-day commentators. Cricket, more than ever, needs Pakistan to host international games. The players who envisaged boasting of the green jersey in their own country, deserve to live their dream. We must now thank ICC for the wonderful initiative.
“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 … These cricketers are here to play their part in the safe and steady return of international cricket in Pakistan so that the enthusiastic and diehard fans and followers of Pakistan cricket can once again start watching their stars in their own backyard,” added du Plessis.
There are five South Africans, three Australians, two West Indians, one each from Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, and England in the World XI team. Coached by Andy Flower, the only wicketkeeper in the side is Tim Paine. As a result, the captain and he are certain in the playing XI.
Likely XI for World XI:
Hashim Amla, Tamim Iqbal, Faf du Plessis (c), George Bailey, David Miller, Paul Collingwood, Tim Paine (wk), Ben Cutting, Darren Sammy, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel.
Benched players: Samuel Badree, Grant Elliott, Thisara Perera.
The World XI have a mighty batting line-up, also bragging of three pace-bowling all-rounders in Collingwood, Cutting, and Sammy.
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Likely XI for Pakistan:
Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Amin, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Aamer, Sohail Khan.
Benched players: Usman Khan, Rumman Raees, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Aamer Yamin.
Three spin-bowling all-rounders in Malik, Imad, and Shadab are enough to catch the visitors in a maze. If there is bounce on offer, the pace trio of Hasan, Aamer, and Sohail can rock the opposition with sheer pace. Otherwise, Pakistan has a balanced batting unit.
Although this series is played for a cause, both teams will leave no stone unturned to lift the cup. It is about competition nonetheless, and all eyes will be on this series. And also the entire world would be eager to finally see an international match in Pakistan.
“Everybody had the courage and the confidence to play here and that was essential for this series,” PCB Chairman Najam Sethi thanked the World XI players for agreeing to the tour.
With this, cricket finally achieves what it deserves.