Pakistan v World XI: First T20 Preview

Batsman faces bowler in front of packed cordon

Jonhenry Wilson takes a look at the first of three T20 Internationals between Pakistan and a World XI to be played in Lahore.

An admirable attempt to return international cricket to Pakistan, on a full-time basis, will bring an intriguing three-match series between Sarfraz Ahmed's men and Faf du Plessis' motley crew.

Other than Zimbabwe in 2015, no Test-playing nation has toured Pakistan since 2009's terrorist attack on the touring Sri Lankans' team bus in Lahore, where six policemen and two civilians were killed - and several players injured.

Pakistan v World XI | Tuesday, 12 September | Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore | 16:00

To Win Match
Pakistan 66/100 | Tie 35/1 | World XI 5/4

Pakistan have dropped a string of experienced players, including Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal and Wahab Riaz, in favour of several names who have recently performed well at domestic level, like Ruman Raees, Hasan Ali and Usman Khan. Fast bowler Sohail Khan, too, has been recalled after a near six-year absence from T20I cricket.

Starved of international cricket in their own country and all too familiar with conditions and circumstances experienced in their home-away-from home, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Pakistan must quickly get to grips with the magnitude of the occasion - and opposition - in Lahore. Relatively new to the captaincy, Sarfraz, indeed, faces a relatively challenging week of leadership and astute man management.

Meanwhile, Fakhar Zaman and a couple of other Pakistanis drafted for the inaugural T20 Global League in South Africa later this year are presented with the opportunity to perform against a slew of stars they'll be playing alongside come November and December in Cape Town, Durban and surrounds. Imad Wasim will, in fact, be led by du Plessis at the Stellenbosch Monarchs.

Currently the proud occupants of third position in the International Cricket Council's T20I rankings, Pakistan won't soon get a chance to compete against first-placed New Zealand and second-placed England, but will at least get to face a couple of former players from each of those countries in Kiwi Grant Elliott and Englishman Paul Collingwood.

World XI
Elliott and Collingwood's presence, indeed, suggests this team isn't actually a collective representation of world cricket's best T20 players, but rather an embodiment of who is available and willing to tour the politically volatile country. Other heroes of yesteryear - Australia's George Bailey and West Indies' Darren Sammy - are also along for the ride.

The squad isn't entirely antiquated, though, with South African quintet du Plessis, Imran Tahir, Hashim Amla, David Miller and Morne Morkel complemented by West Indian Samuel Badree and Sri Lankan Thisara Perera. Tahir's Pakistani routes will certainly help the contrived collective acclimatise to the culture. Perera will bring the most recent match experience, coming off a difficult series against India.

Seven countries are represented across the 14-man touring party, suggesting little cohesion. Du Plessis and coach Andy Flower need to galvanise the bunch quickly, in challenging conditions and a difficult political climate. They'll certainly want to do a lot better than the last time an ICC World XI assembled, in 2005, only to be blanked by Australia.

Tuesday's venue has hosted two Twenty20 Internationals. The opposition's choice to bat first backfired on both occasions. Du Plessis and company would do well to learn from this - and instead bowl first if triumphant at the toss. Pakistan can be a fragile unit when pressurised by needing to set a tough target in front of a highly expectant crowd.

Verdict: Pakistan 66/100
One trusts the hosts will deliver on cue, according to the historical enormity of the occasion - and undo an opposition unit that has pretty much been cobbled together rather than carefully selected.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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