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Sports

AFP
September 15, 2017
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Pakistan celebrate cricket return with series triumph

Pakistan celebrate cricket return with series triumph

LAHORE: Pakistan celebrated the return of international cricket with a thumping 33-run win to clinch the final Twenty20 match and the series against a World XI team at Lahore´s Gaddafi stadium Friday.

The hosting of the short series is a major step towards convincing international teams to begin touring Pakistan again, with Sri Lanka already due to play a Twenty20 match in Lahore on October 29.

Foreign teams have refused to tour Pakistan since a militant attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.

Under Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan team outplayed the World XI -- with cricketers from seven countries -- in Friday´s decider to match the important occasion by claiming the series 2-1.

Pakistan had won the first match by 20 runs on Tuesday before World XI levelled the series with a seven-wicket victory in the second on Wednesday.

World XI captain Faf du Plessis hailed the series as a big step and success.

"This has been a huge success," said du Plessis. "We wanted to come here and play a small part in cricket coming back to Pakistan. Thank everyone for the opportunity for coming here.

"We were joking about it, the blokes were saying we should do this every year. For a lot of guys who don´t play a lot of international cricket these days, this was terrific competition against a strong Pakistan side."

During the match the Pakistan Cricket Board arranged a lap of honour for retired greats Shahid Afridi and Misbah-ul-Haq. The two were given a standing ovation by a packed 25,000 crowd.

The series was arranged as part of Pakistan´s efforts to bring back international cricket to the country, which has only hosted Zimbabwe for a limited-over series in 2015.

Pakistan hopes the successful staging of this series will help them host Sri Lanka for a Twenty20 international on October 29, at the end of their full series in the United Arab Emirates.

A month later they are also likely to host the West Indies for three Twenty20 matches.

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