Pakistan celebrates cricket's return with a win

Hosts beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in the opening T20, the first international match in Pakistan since 2009.

    Pakistan celebrates cricket's return with a win
    Mukhtar Ahmed top-scored for Pakistan with a whirlwind 83 [EPA]

    Pakistan welcomed cricket back to its shores with a bang as it beat Zimbabwe by five wickets in the opening Twenty20 at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.

    Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura's 54 off 34 balls had helped the visitors post a decent 172-6.

    In reply, opener Mukhtar Ahmed, playing in only his second T20 international, bludgeoned 83 off 45 balls as Pakistan reached 173-5 in the last over with captain Shahid Afridi hitting a boundary off the first ball he faced.

    A capacity crowd of 27,000 packed the Gaddafi Stadium for the first international match in Pakistan in six years, and was entertained by Ahmed, who hit 12 fours and three sixes.

    The home side did wobble slightly towards the end, losing five wickets for 27 runs but managed to edge over the finish line in the final over.

    The second T20 will be played at the same venue on Sunday.

    Zimbabwe became the first Test-playing nation to visit Pakistan since the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team. At least 4,000 policemen and paramilitaries guarded the stadium, teams' hotel and the route the team buses took.

    The ICC decided not to send match officials for the series, but said this would not affect the status of the games which would remain full internationals.

    Among those umpiring the T20 was Pakistan's Ahsan Raza, a special moment for him after he was injured in the shooting six years ago.

    He spent 29 days in hospital recovering from a bullet to the lung, but has made a full recovery.


    Zimbabwe 172-6 in 20 overs (Chigumbura 54, Sami 3-36)

    Pakistan 173-5 in 19.3 overs (Mukhtar 83, Cremer 2-28)

    A capacity crowd of 27,000 turned up for the fixture, the first in Pakistan since 2009 [Getty Images]
    Pakistan fielded a four-man pace attack for the match [Getty Images]
    The crowd had started turning up five hours before the start of the match [Getty Images]
    Around 4,000 police officials were on duty at the stadium, the hotel and along the route [Getty Images]
    Zimbabwe's team was welcomed by fans in the stadium [Reuters]

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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