Babar’s 86 edges out World XI in Lahore

Babar Azam showed why he is considered the future of Pakistan batting, as his 52-ball 86 carried Pakistan to a comfortable 20-run win over the World XI in the first T20I. After Fakhar Zaman was dismissed in the first over, Babar put on a 122-run partnership with Ahmed Shahzad to set Pakistan up for a big finish. Shoaib Malik and Imad Wasim then helped Pakistan score 48 runs in the last three overs to finish with 197, their fourth-highest T20 total. World XI’s weak bowling attack was laid surgically bare, with only their specialist bowlers – Morne Morkel and Imran Tahir – providing a semblance of control.

However, the opening pair of Hashim Amla and Tamim Iqbal would be the envy of most sides. Hashim Amla was at his elegant best, providing that unique mix: grace and a brisk strike rate. At least one of them needed to bat through, but both fell in the 5th over, and the target began to fade into the distance. Faf du Plessis kept World XI in the hunt, taking 22 off a Hasan Ali over, but in a chase that cried out for a substantial contribution, World XI had only cameos to offer.

Where the match was won

Morkel is the side’s only specialist fast bowler, and he relies far more heavily on bounce than Lahore’s pitch could bear. His short deliveries sat up for Babar. The part-time medium pace of Ben Cutting, Darren Sammy, and Thisara Perera, who went for 51 in his four overs, proved to be far too easy for the Pakistan batsmen. World XI looked to have conceded about 20 runs too many, and it was fitting that that was the winning margin.

Summarized scores: Pakistan 197 for 5 (Babar 86, Shehzad 39, Malik 38) beat World XI 177 for 7 (Sammy 29, du Plessis 29) by 20 runs

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