Independence Cup Begins Today

Pakistan will be hoping to celebrate the return of high-profile international cricket to their backyard after more than eight years with a victory when they begin a three-match T20 international series against a World XI at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Tuesday.

The Asian country became a no-go zone for the international teams after a terrorist attack on Sri Lankan team bus in March 2009 in Lahore, which killed eight people and left seven visiting players among several others injured.

Zimbabwe visited Lahore for a limited-overs series in 2015, but the tour was marred by a suicide attack outside the stadium that left two people dead.

The World XI tour comes on the back of a successful staging of Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2017 final, which featured several former and present international stars.

If the World XI tour goes off without any incident, Sri Lanka will also visit Lahore in October for the last of their three T20Is in UAE. Pakistan are also in talks with West Indies to host a three-match T20Is series in November.

Independence Cup is Pakistan’s first assignment since their ICC Champions Trophy title triumph in June.

The hosts’ line-up looks balanced in the presence of talented youngsters like Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Muhammad Nawaz, Hassan Ali, Shadab Khan, Roman Raees and experienced campaigners like Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfraz Ahmed, Sohail Khan and Shoaib Malik.

Their strike bowler Mohammad Amir was named in the 16-man squad but is unlikely to be available for the series due to family reasons. The left-arm pacer is currently in London with his wife, who gave birth to a baby girl early on Tuesday.

Led by South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, the World XI features top international stars from seven countries.

Hashim Amla, Tamim Iqbal, Tim Paine are the top-order specialists in their lineup while the middle-order will comprise the likes of Du Plessis, David Miller, Grant Elliott and George Bailey.

The touring side also features established all-rounders like Darren Sammy and Thisara Perera.

On the bowling front, Morne Morkel will spearhead the pace attack, and Imran Tahir and Samuel Badree will perform spin duties.

Squads:

Pakistan:

Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Amin, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Fahim Ashraf , Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Amir, Rumman Raees, Hasan Ali, Aamer Yamin, Usman Khan, Sohail Khan.

World XI:

Faf du Plessis, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Hashim Amla, George Bailey, David Miller, Tim Paine, Thisara Perera, Darren Sammy, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir, Samuel Badree, Grant Elliott, Tamim Iqbal.

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