Pakistan won the Independence Cup 2017 © AFP
Pakistan won the Independence Cup 2017 © AFP

International cricket returned to Pakistan in true sense when Sarfraz Ahmed and co. lifted the Independence Cup by clinching the third and final T20I. Pakistan won the game on Friday by margin of 33 runs. The tournament that was levelled saw Pakistan steal the thunder. Babar Azam handed Pakistan their first win and it was Ahmed Shahzad who provided Pakistan victory with his quick fire 55-ball 89. Sarfraz lauded Pakistan’s efforts and feels there is plenty of talent in the country who change the fortunes of international cricket in Pakistan. Sarfraz also thanked security forces and groundsman for successfully conducting the tournament in Pakistan after eight years.

Lauding the efforts of Pakistan, Sarfraz said, “My boys put in a fantastic effort. Babar Azam’s innings was beyond appreciation. We got a good start. We’ve been working out because fitness has become important nowadays. So the fielding is improving too. We got run-outs today the boys fielded better. We are a young team, so the effort is to build the confidence,” as quoted on Indian Express. Sarfraz feels through this tournament, the youngsters can benefit in the future, “Players should get a fair rope at the international level. There’s talent in Pakistan, it’s about getting opportunities. Thanks to the crowd, the security forces, the groundsman for preparing the high-scoring pitches.”

Meanwhile, Shahzad was awarded Man of the Match and claimed cricket is the ultimate winner, “I failed to score good runs in the first two matches but today I decided to stay till the end – thinking if others can do it why not me?! and it came very nicely. I have been working hard. I’d like to name Arthur; the coaching staffs have been through thick and thin. That’s what you want from them. I’d like to thank the crowd, the World XI; some of them want to come back. Cricket wins; we all love this game. As a nation, we have a lot of passion for the game.”

World XI skipper Faf du Plessis had earlier felt he was part of a movie plot looking at security levels in Pakistan. But at the end of the tournament, he deemed the series as a huge success, “Cricket’s come back to Pakistan. From our point of view, we thank everyone. Our team will get better (chuckles). Was a great competition; Pakistan are a very good side. It’s not the Pakistan team that you can beat in the field (easily). They have the skills with the ball and their batting is also strong. Captaining World XI was great. It’s a good bunch of guys. And it makes a week or ten days like this very enjoyable.”