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May 28, 2006
A star-studded Pakistan XI won both its exhibition matches against an Asian XI in Jeddah earlier this week.
Inzamam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan captain, led the side that included a number of top national cricketers to victory in the two matches that were played at the Al-Ahli Stadium.
In the first match, Pakistan XI defeated their rivals by 10 runs while in the other game played on Friday evening they prevailed by four wickets. Younis Khan and Abdul Razzaq set the stadium on fire with scintillating sixes and fantastic fours in the second match.
Set a modest target of 197, Pakistan won the 35-over match comfortably in the 31st over for the loss of six wickets.
According to Saudi newspaper Arab News, Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi flags of all shapes and all sizes fluttered in the warm evening breeze that heralded the onset of international cricket in Jeddah.
The electrifying display by the Pakistan batsmen sent the sizable mass of cricket aficionados from the subcontinent into rapture. The chants vibrated through the air as Younis and Razzaq sent the ball over the boundary and into the crowd on numerous occasions. It was nothing short of the sweetness of victory for the mostly subcontinental spectators for whom cricket is second only to religion.
Missing in action, however, were the Saudis. Save for the men in uniform, there was not a Saudi soul in sight watching the game of passion in action. Those who promoted it here in the Kingdom were also conspicuous by their absence. But then the spectators had fun "because we watched our heroes in action in Saudi Arabia".
If Inzamam played a sterling role as a captain for his team, it was Ajay Jadeja who led the Asian XI with aplomb. He lost the toss and the match but won the accolades of the crowd. He himself batted in style and experts said had Jadeja stayed a little longer in the middle, the result would have been different.
For the Asian XI it was Sri Lankan Kumar Dharmasena who top scored with 61 in their total of 196. The Asian team was bundled out in the 31st over. Pakistan reached the target after losing six wickets and Inzamam fittingly scored the winning runs.
© Daily News