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Pakistan marked the safe return of cricket by clinching the Independence Cup by winning the series-decider in front of an emotional and charge crowd at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore. The hosts overpowered the star-studded  World XI.

This drive to honor national heroes was pushed by  Shahid Afridi, initially much to the chagrin of the board. Perhaps, nations must honor their heroes instead of sending them packing disrespectfully

Chasing a daunting target of 184, openers Tamim Iqbal and Hashim Amla got off to a brisk start but were sent packing early when the visitors lost 3 scalps for 41 runs. Brilliant fielding coupled with tight bowling from the fast bowling trio of Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees and Usman Shinwari stifled the progress of the World XI as they lost 5 wickets for 67 runs. Pakistan had a firm grip on the match as the visitors needed 117 from 61 balls.

However, the destroyer-in-chief of the last game, Thisara Perera was still in the middle and so was the danger. He flaunted his power by pummelling rookie Shadab Khan for 3 sixes and a four in one over. But when Rumman Raees dismissed him, victory was bagged in a canter as the visitors could only manage 150 at the end of its allotted 20 overs.

Read more: Independence Cup up for grabs as World XI takes on Pakistan…

A rickshaw with former captain Misbah ul Haq sitting in it took a standing ovation as a token of appreciation for his meritorious services for Pakistan

Earlier, Pakistan was put into bat by Faf du Plessis. Openers Ahmed Shehzad and Fakhar Zaman got off to a reasonably good start, piling up 61 in 8 overs before Zakhar was run out unfortunately with Shehzad’s straight drive rolled on the stumps while touching Sammy’s fingers.

Thereafter, just like in the previous two matches, Shehzad essayed a stupendous partnership with Babar Azam. Both mustered 102 runs for the 2nd wicket. When it looked as if both batsmen were struggling to get a move on, Shehzad struck three back-to-back sixes in the 18th overs to propel his team to 163. Unluckily Shehzad could not complete his 2nd T20 ton and was run out for a blistering 89. Once again a last-gasp push was provided by the inimitable Shoaib Malik, scoring 17 off 7 balls with the help of 2 huge sixes.

Shehzad was awarded the player of the match award for his brilliant innings, while Azam bagged the man of the series award. He scored 179 runs in the series.

Read more: The wait is over! the historic Independence Cup kicks off today

The successful completion is a huge milestone in the return of cricket in the country which was deprived of it since the ill-fated events of March 2009.

Shehzad was awarded the player of the match award for his brilliant innings, while Azam bagged the man of the series award. He scored 179 runs in the series

“We wanted to come here and play a small part in cricket coming back to Pakistan. Thanks everyone for the opportunity for coming here. We were joking about it, the blokes were saying we should do this every year. For a lot of guys who don’t play a lot of international cricket these days, this was terrific competition against a strong Pakistan side,” said Skipper Faf du Plessis in the post-match presentation.

Security arrangements were water-tight but thankfully were not giving the impression as if the stadium was a fortress; the crowd and the players were at ease. This is something very good; it will send just the right optics.

Read more: World XI arrives in Lahore for the Independence Cup

The World XI is flying back today.

Goodbye Legends 

Emotions ran high as something unprecedented in Pakistan’s cricket history happened during the match. World-beaters and masters of their trades have left Pakistan cricket unceremoniously in the past. But the crowd at the GSL witnessed something special.

Pakistan marked the safe return of cricket by clinching the Independence Cup by winning the series-decider in front of an emotional and charge crowd at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore

A rickshaw with former captain Misbah ul Haq sitting in it took a standing ovation as a token of appreciation for his meritorious services for Pakistan.

Thereafter, the crowd erupted and chanted in unison when they saw heartthrob, Shahid Afridi doing the same on the rickshaw. Afridi stood up, waved and posed in his customary style with hands aloft as the crowd screamed “Afridi Afridi”.

The two legends were then greeted by the team as a mark of veneration for their fantastic careers. This drive to honor national heroes was pushed by  Shahid Afridi, initially much to the chagrin of the board. Perhaps, nations must honor their heroes instead of sending them packing disrespectfully.

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