CAPE TOWN - The World XI may have arrived in Pakistan with the broader mandate of assisting the process of regular international cricket returning to the embattled Asian nation, but with a series-decider being set up for Friday their focus will be squarely on winning.
With the World XI still absorbing the enormity of their presence in Pakistan – only the second international team to visit after the terror attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009 – the hosts coasted to a comfortable victory in the opening T20 on Tuesday.
However, the visitors hit back in a thrilling contest the following day with Sri Lankan World T20 winner Thisara Perera smashing a six off the penultimate ball of the second T20 to level the series. Former Proteas Test captain Hashim Amla also found his groove with an undefeated 72 to be drive the World XI home.
From being driven around the field in tuk-tuks ahead of the first T20, resembling dignitaries who would sip fruit cocktails in the presidential suites while watching the game instead of playing in it, the World XI have suddenly become serious about being the first visiting team to win a series Pakistan for eight years.
“Yes it is for a good cause, and it’s great to be back in Pakistan, but the squad here, we have one mission and that is to win,” World XI and Proteas fast bowler Morne Morkel said.
“We have pride in our performances. It’s 1-1 all. It’s what Pakistan, the country asked for, so hopefully we can have that atmosphere on Friday.”
Although Morkel did not pick up a wicket the 2nd T20I, the lanky South African was at his miserly best. Morkel conceded just 20 runs from his four overs, despite the Pakistan openers Fakhar Zaman and Ahmed Shehzad blasted 41 runs in the opening 4.5 overs.
Even with captain Faf du Plessis rotating his ends, Morkel still only conceded seven runs in his first three overs which were all delivered in the Powerplay when only two fielders are allowed outside the 15-yard circle.
Du Plessis will no doubt be hoping for a similar start from his premier fast bowler to set up the series-decider for the World XI on Friday.