CAPE TOWN – Just like in the recent Champions Trophy, Pakistan’s young seam bowlers proved too hot to handle, with the hosts choking the World XI batsmen to claim the Independence Cup by 23 runs on Friday night.
The return of the Champions Trophy Man of the Tournament Hasan Ali for the series-decider certainly proved the difference between the two teams at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Without Ali in the Pakistan line-up on Wednesday, the World XI managed to score more than 13.5 runs to the over at the death to get home off the second-last ball of the match.
But with the 23-year-old rifling in his yorkers almost at will and also flummoxing the World XI batsmen with his subtle changes of pace, there would be no repeat on Friday.
Fellow 23-year-old Usman Khan (1/26) was equally impressive, along with Rumman Raees (1/20), as Pakistan never allowed their famed visitors to recover from 53/4 as the World XI ended on 150/8 after the home team posted 183/4 in their 20 overs.
Poor running between the wickets did not help the World XI’s chase either, with South African stars Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis both falling short of their crease.
“Pakistan’s bowling was really strong. It has a lot more energy. And as you saw, their fielding is electric. That’s a big change for Pakistan. It is not the Pakistan team of old, where you feel you can beat them in the field.
“They are just as good as any team in the world. And then skills wise – yorkers, slower balls, they are all there. The batting was also strong in this last match,” Du Plessis said.
The batting certainly was, with the hosts posting a solid 183/4, courtesy of dynamic contributions from Ahmed Shehzad (89 off 55 balls, 8x4, 3x6) and Man-of-the-Series Babar Azam (48 off 31 balls, 5x4).
The Gaddafi Stadium crowd certainly enjoyed Shehzad becoming the first Pakistani batsman to smash three consecutive sixes in a T20 innings, but they showed equal appreciation for the World XI throughout the series, prompting the idea that a global team could be a concept that has merit going forward.
“It has been great. The great thing about this team is that it is a good bunch of guys. Whether you are playing cricket or not, it is easy to share a dressing room with these guys because they are nice to be around. It makes a week or 10 days like this very enjoyable,” Du Plessis said.
“We were joking as a team that this should happen at least once a year. Maybe like the Globetrotters, tour the world. It was fantastic to be here.”