The 14-member ICC World XI announced for the three-match T20 Independence Cup in Lahore on September 12, 13 and 15, truly lives up to its name. The names that were going to be a part of the squad were always going to be almost as important as the series itself. This is especially true after ‘phateechargate’ dominated the buildup, and the aftereffects of the PSL final earlier this year. But not only is the PSL winning Darren Sammy a part of the 14-member squad, it has players from seven Test playing nations: five from South Africa, three from Australia, two from the Windies, and one each from Bangladesh, England, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Zimbabwe, the only international side to have toured Pakistan since the 2009 attack, will have their representative in former skipper Andy Flower, who will coach this side.
The squad itself has name as illustrious as South Africa’s Test captain Faf du Plessis, Hashim Amla – a veteran batsman who has topped the ranking charts, England’s World T20 winning skipper Paul Collingwood, twice World T20 winning captain Sammy, arguably Bangladesh’s leading batsman Tamim Iqbal, former Australian limited-overs skipper George Bailey, David Miller – who has played almost 100 ODIs and over 50 T20s for South Africa and shone in global T20 leagues including the IPL – and New Zealand’s all-rounder Grant Elliott, who took New Zealand to 2015 World Cup 2015 final and whose bat-drop celebration after winning the game for Qalandars against United in this year’s PSL was one of the standout moments of the season. The complete squad for Independence Cup: Faf du Plessis (c), Hashim Amla, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir (South Africa), Darren Sammy, Samuel Badree (West Indies), George Bailey, Ben Cutting, Tim Paine (wk) (Australia), Paul Collingwood (England), Grant Elliott (New Zealand), Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh), Thisara Perera (Sri Lanka).
The upcoming visit of World Xi team to Pakistan is certainly a positive development for bringing back the international cricket and top notch security arrangements should be made in this regard.
It cannot be stressed enough just how significant this lineup is given what Pakistan has been through over the past eight years. This might be continuation of the progress made after hosting the PSL final – and Ronaldinho and Friends – in Pakistan this year, but it is a massive step forward. It is little wonder that both Sri Lanka and West Indies have agreed to come to Pakistan, subject to the success of the Independence Cup. The series against World XI in September would be followed by the Sri Lanka tour in October – which would be divided between UAE and Pakistan – and then a three match T20 series against the West Indies in November. After that Pakistan are supposed to tour New Zealand of ODI and T20 series in January. That would be followed by PSL 3, where significantly more matches would be held in Pakistan, should everything go according to plan.
It is a wonderful circle that Pakistan would complete between the second and third seasons of the PSL, which hinges upon the groundbreaking success in the Champions Trophy, which has made it impossible for the ICC and international sides to ignore Pakistan. The PSL helped Pakistan win the Champions Trophy, which is now helping the T20 league return to Pakistan. PSL was always going to bolster Pakistan both on and off the field. That it has managed to do so in 18 months, is truly astounding.