Lahore - Sarfraz Ahmed-led Pakistan team will take on South Africa captain Faf du Plessis-led World XI in the third and final Twenty20 international match of the Independence Cup here at the Gaddafi Stadium today (Friday).

The third and last T20 will not be less than a ‘grand finale’ for both the teams, which will be eager to win the mega series at any cost. Not only for teams, it will also be a ‘grand finale’ for the spectators, who are utilizing all their sources to get maximum tickets of the final to make their moments most momentous.

The event has become one of the mega events of Pakistan’s history and it has added more beauty to Pakistan cricket, which has been suffering long due to isolation but now this series has proven as stepping stone towards revival of international cricket in Pakistan. The arrival of world’s mega stars of seven countries has not only made the event more significant but also has gathered the attraction of cricket-crazy nation, which has shown greater discipline, tolerance and responsibility to make it a huge success.

On the other hand, the efforts of PCB chairman Najam Sethi and all-out support and cooperation of the federal and provincial government and armed forces has helped in organising the mega series in a trend setting manner, which will help open floodgates of international cricket in Pakistan and convince other teams to come and play here in a safe and secure atmosphere. Overall, the series has sent message to the entire world that Pakistan is safe place to host international events and Pakistanis are cricket mad and peace loving people.

The first match of the series was a festive occasion, which was made more joyful by the team by winning it in great style. The second was comparatively subdued, with low total by home team, slower scoring rates, lower stakes, but with better weather. Now the third and last T20 is all set to take place and it will be more than cricket.

The World XI has top notch cricketers from top cricket playing nations while Pakistan team is winner of Champions Trophy, so in the given circumstances, the clash between the two teams has been dubbed as a thrilling final. Pakistan team has to face a tough challenge from the World XI, which will also be keen to beat the home side to salvage its pride and to clinch the glittering Independence Cup.

For Pakistan, expectations after the Champions Trophy are huge, so it is vital Sarfaraz seize every opportunity he can. It is hoped that Babar Azam will continue his good form while Fakhar Zaman has to play with greater responsibility if he is given chance, while each and every member of Pakistan team has to play sensibly if they want to win the series.

Both the rival captains are eager to win the third and final match of the series which stand locked at 1-1. About his preparation and strategy before playing the ‘grand final’, Sarfraz Ahmad said: "It is a very important match for us and we will be going all out to win the match as the series is leveled at 1-1 and the match has become equally important for the both sides to grab the title."

The Pakistan captain said the team must show consistency which would be only possible when all the players exhibit their best game. "I have urged the fellow colleague to give their hundred percent and should not repeat the errors, which they committed in the second match," he added.  Sarfraz asked the team members to lift the level of their overall game, especially fielding to save runs and called upon the Pakistan pace battery to bowl with more vigor and accuracy to shatter the confidence of opponents experienced batting line up. "Beating the World XI is a tough task, but we are in the right mindset to achieve this objective the way we did in the opening match of the series," he said.

World XI captain Faf du Plessis said: "We made a coma back in the second match after learning from our mistakes in the first game and we will playing the last game with a similar mind set to achieve our set goals. "It is not going to be easy at all for us as Pakistan team has the added advantage of home ground and crowd and it has also the ability to fight back due to some good players in the side and we have to overcome all these challenges for a winning way," he added.

He said the World XI comprises players from different countries and they took time to gel like a team and he is confident that team will be giving a good show in the last match.

To a query, Du Plessis said that he and his teammates are enjoying playing cricket in Pakistan and they are very happy to be here. "Pakistani people are very carrying and loving and we received big encouragement and support from them in the two matches and we look forward to similar gesture from them in the last match as well," he added.


PAKISTAN: Sarfraz Ahmad (capt/wk), Fakhar Zaman, Ahmed Shehzad, Baber Azam, Shoaib Malik, Umer Amin, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, M Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Amir Yamin, Ruman Raees, Usman Shinwari and Sohail Khan.

World XI: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Samuel Badree, George Bailey, Paul Collingwood, Ben Cutting, Grant Elliott, Tamim Iqbal, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Tim Paine, Thisara Perera, Darren Sammy and Imran Tahir.