LAHORE: International cricket returned to Pakistan after a gap of six long years as Pakistan took on Zimbabwe in the opening T20 of the two match series in Lahore on Friday.
The entire city was buzzing with excitement since the start of the day as fans anxiously waited for the match to start. Fans are advised to reach the stadium three hours before the start of the match as there were strict security arrangements, and despite mercury hitting 43 in Lahore fans queued outside the stadium hours before the match started. The Zimbabwe team bus was escorted to the stadium in a fleet of armed police vans two hours before the match, two choppers also kept an eye on Qaddafi from the sky. There was no space as fans packed the 27,000 capacity stadium. The anticipation was so much that fans came from all across the country to witness a historical moment in Pakistan’s cricket. President Mamnoon Hussain was in the stadium to welcome the Zimbabwe team and greeted the players before the match started.
On the pitch Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura won the toss and elected to bat first, Zimbabwe made a promising start with the opening pair putting up 58, despite wickets falling at regular intervals the African team maintained a steady run rate. Chigumbura’s quick fired 54 helped Zimbabwe put up a sizeable target of 173. Muhammad Sami took three wickets, Wahab Riaz took two and Shoaib Malik chipped in with one wicket.
Pakistani opening duo of Mukhtar Ahmed and Ahmed Shehzad put up a real show for the enthusiastic crowd and welcomed international cricket 142 runs stand in just 13.3 overs. Shehzad was dismissed for 55 and Mukhtar departed on 83 soon after. Pakistan slightly towards the end and lost wicket sin quick succession, however captain Afridi walked in the last over of the match and sealed the victory by 5 wickets and three balls to spare with a first ball four towards mid off. Mukhtar Ahmed was given the man of the match for his 83 runs knock.