Independence Cup, 2nd T20I
Pakistan: 174/6 (Azam 45, Perera 2/23)
World XI: 175/3 (Amla 72*, Perera 47*, Nawaz 1/27)
World XI won by 7 wickets
CAPE TOWN – Pakistan would have gone to bed on Wednesday evening wondering how they failed to win the second T20 of this Independence Cup, which would have sealed the series for the hosts.
It will perhaps be of some consolation to the neutral supporter that a decider has been set up for Friday.
And in the context of why this series is being played, perhaps it is best for everyone that the World XI are not only in Lahore to pick up their reported $100 000-per-man cheques.
A six off the penultimate ball by Thisara Perera sealed an extraordinary victory. This was after the World XI had been kept in touch by the man at the other end, Hashim Amla, who played a sweetly-timed innings of 72 not out from 55 balls.
Perera, though, was the game-changer, with the Sri Lankan slugger smashing 45 off only 19 balls.
He arrived at the crease after the dismissal of World XI captain Faf du Plessis (20 off 14 balls), with the visitors requiring 69 runs off the final six overs.
However, after eight balls he only had 12 though, and the World XI required 41 off 18 balls, with the run-rate escalating to 13.66 per over.
A six off Rumman Raees in the next over got the engine started before belting Sohail Khan for another two maximums the following over to sustain the momentum.
Between the two strikes, Perera was dropped on the boundary by Shoaib Malik, but even at that stage it did not look consequential, considering the enormity of the World XI task.
How Pakistan would be made to rue the missed opportunity later on, with Perera and Amla taking 13 runs off the final Raees over to keep the series alive.
Amla, though, deserves a great deal of credit too, for the South African is almost unrecognisable from the player who started out tentatively in the shortest format.
He certainly gave another sold-out Gaddafi Stadium crowd some insight to what they have been missing out on for the past eight years.
The former Proteas Test captain has certainly improved his all-round T20 game since joining the Indian Premier League two seasons ago, in particular his power striking down the ground.
Amla’s hallmark, though, remains his touch and placement that allows him to score at a rapid strike-rate without much effort.
The Pakistan innings followed a similar trend to the series opener, with Babar Azam once again top-scoring for the hosts after his Man-of-the-Match performance on Tuesday.
Azam is undoubtedly the future of Pakistan’s batting, with the right-hander displaying the technique, skill and temperament that should serve him well going forward.
However, unlike the first game, he could not capitalise on his promising start as he was dismissed for 45.
Neither could Fakhar Zaman (21), Ahmed Shehzad (43) and Malik (39), which ultimately proved the difference on the night.