Pakistan win first Twenty20 match at home ground in six years
LAHORE: Pakistan beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in the first Twenty20 international at a packed stadium Gaddafi by Friday, celebrating international cricket’s return to the country after a period of six years.
Pakistan chased the 173-run target with three balls to spare in 19.3 overs and take a 1-0 lead in the two-game series.
Pakistan had not hosted any international cricket since the terrorist attacks on the bus of the Sri Lankan team in Lahore in 2009.
Strict security was in place Friday with 4,000 police officers on duty, but that did not stop the cricket-private packing fans in the stadium of 27,000 capacity.
After winning the toss, Zimbabwe batted first scoring 172 points for the loss of six wickets. Captain Elton Chigumbura remained the top scorer with 54 runs.
Make his international return, Mohammad Sami took 3 wickets pacemaker. Wahab Riaz took two and Shoaib Malik 1 wicket.
In response, Pakistani Ahmed Mukhtar Ahmed Shehzad opened and received the friendly staff not scoring over 100 runs for the opening partnership.
Mukhtar, who was also named “Man of the Match”, scored a brilliant 45-ball 83 with 12 fours and three sixes. Shehzad made a solid 55.
Speaking to the television presenter and former cricket great Ramiz Raja during the awards ceremony, Mukhtar said he was prepared to take a role of team management wanted to put to him.
He also expressed his joy at the return of international cricket in the country and to obtain the man of the match award in the game today.
Skipper Shahid Afridi hit the winning runs after his team stuttered for a while after losing openers together.
“Crowd gave the image that we are a nation that loves cricket. Zimbabwe played well, but today it was all about Mukhtar … we expect the same from him in the future” said the captain during the awards ceremony.
The second Twenty20 will be played on Sunday, followed by three one-day internationals May 26, 29 and 31 – all in Lahore.