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Pakistan vs World XI: Babar Azam wants more home games

Babar Azam, who produced a match-winning knock for the Pakistan cricket team in the first Twenty20 International against the ICC World XI, has stated that Pakistan must play more matches at home.

cricket Updated: Sep 13, 2017 18:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Babar Azam,Pakistan national cricket team,World XI
International cricket returned to Pakistan after a gap of two years and Babar Azam’s sparkling knock gave the hosts a wonderful win over the ICC World XI in the first Twenty20 International in Lahore.(AP)

Mumbai Pakistan batsman Babar Azam has laid emphasis on the importance of playing at home, after producing a match-winning innings that helped his side take a vital 1-0 lead in the ongoing three-match series against the ICC World XI at Lahore.

Babar smacked 10 fours and two sixes to score 86 off just 52 balls, which powered Pakistan to a total of 197 for 5. At the end, Pakistan emerged victorious by 20 runs.

Post the game, Babar highlighted the importance of playing cricket at home as he said it is like no other experience. “It’s obviously difficult to play your own home series away from home because playing at home is relatively easy for us,” he said.

Babar’s comments carry a great level of importance for the cricket administrators as they are coming from a batsman who is one of the finest in the country.

In January this year, he had joined the likes of Sir Vivian Richards and Kevin Pietersen among those to have taken least innings to score their first 1,000 ODI runs. Babar had achieved the feat in 21 innings.

“It’s mainly because we grew up playing at our home venues, attuned with the conditions and with the crowd support it’s more enjoyable. It helps a lot also playing in front of a crowd that loves cricket and loves you and performing make us more special,” Babar was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo.

Babar, who also credited his partnership with Ahmed Shehzad for Pakistan’s win added, “We unfortunately have been deprived of playing at home regularly [sic] while every team around the world enjoys the privilege of playing at their home. I did play one game earlier against Zimbabwe at home and it also gives you immense pleasure to play.”

The second game of the series will be played on Wednesday night, while the third and final will be held on Friday night. All games of this series are being played at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

The ongoing ‘Independence Cup’ series is being described as the one that marks the return of international cricket in Pakistan, after a gap of eight long years. Barring Zimbabwe in 2015, no international team had toured Pakistan after the Sri Lankan team bus came under a terrorist attack in Lahore in 2009.

Most of the current Pakistani players have not had any experience of playing international cricket at home, since they have had to play all their ‘home series’ in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Pakistan’s next international assignment — a full series against Sri Lanka — will once again be played in the UAE. But the final match of the series — a T20I fixture — will be played at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

On Tuesday night, Lahore was locked down in order to strengthen security for the first game of the series between Pakistan and ICC World XI. Inside the Gaddafi Stadium, as Pakistan batted first, Babar produced an innings which the fans will remember for a long time to come as he played a match-winning role for his side.

First Published: Sep 13, 2017 12:03 IST