HAMPSHIRE captain George Bailey was left out of the World XI that lost the opening match of its historic T20 series against Pakistan in Lahore.

But he may play  on Wednesday after pulling out of Hampshire’s Specsavers County Championship match against Middlesex at Uxbridge to play in the ‘T20 Independence Cup’.

“I’m 35 years old now and there aren’t many places around the world I haven’t played cricket - but Pakistan’s one of them,” he explained.

“I’m really excited to get there to play against a team that’s playing some pretty hot cricket and some of my favourite guys to play against.

“I think it’s really exciting for Pakistanis.

“Personally, seeing Glenn McGrath bowl and Ricky Ponting bat are two of the main things that drove me to become a professional cricketer.

“So I think it’s a huge opportunity for Pakistanis to see their own heroes in the flesh and for a lot of the Pakistani team that haven’t had an opportunity to play at home, which is quite phenomenal.”

Last night’s game, which Pakistan won by 20 runs, was the first international cricket match held in Pakistan since Zimbabwe toured in 2015 - and the second since an attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in the host venue in 2009 - and the tourists were protected by high security.

After the first day of Hampshire’s Championship match against Middlesex fell victim to the weather, director of cricket Giles White defended the decision to release Bailey.

He said: “It seemed the right thing to do in this instance, it’s great for George to be selected.

“You get players who become unavailable because of international cricket - we’re also missing Liam Dawson to England.

“Every team has these issues.

“Middlesex have lost two players to Ireland, that’s where the depth of squad comes into it.

“We’ve got young players involved in this game and it will be invaluable for their development. Hopefully they learn from it.”

The Lahore series concludes on Saturday in time for Bailey to return for Hampshire’s penultimate Championship match against leaders Essex at The Ageas Bowl from next Tuesday.

Babar Azam hit 86 off just 52 balls to put Pakistan 1-0 up.

 A 122-run second-wicket stand between Babar and Ahmed Shehzad (39 off 35 balls) set the hosts on their way before a quickfire 38 off 20 deliveries from Shoaib Malik set the World XI a lofty target of 198, with Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera (2-51) the pick of the bowlers.

The tourists, led by Faf du Plessis, have a star -studded line-up including Tamim Iqbal, Hashim Amla and ex-Hampshire overseas player Darren Sammy, who hit an unbeaten 29.