In a dazzling display, Babar Azam’s 151 and Iftikhar Ahmed’s maiden ton led Pakistan to a dominant 342/6 against Nepal in the Asia Cup opener. Pakistan cruised to a resounding 238-run victory as Nepal faltered at 104.
Babar Azam’s exceptional form and Iftikhar Ahmed’s scintillating maiden century stole the spotlight as Pakistan displayed their dominance in the opening match of the Asia Cup 2023 against Nepal. Opting to bat first, Pakistan set a commanding target of 343 runs, owing much of their success to Babar and Iftikhar’s remarkable 214-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
The Multan crowd witnessed an exhibition of splendid cricketing shots as Babar Azam’s willow wreaked havoc on the Nepalese bowlers. His 131-ball 151 was studded with 14 fours and 4 towering sixes, showcasing a diverse range of strokes. Iftikhar Ahmed, on the other hand, lived up to his reputation of being a big hitter, smashing his way to his maiden century with 11 fours and 4 maximums in his quick-paced 71-ball stay for 109 runs.
The fifth-wicket partnership not only anchored Pakistan’s innings but also propelled the run-rate beyond 5 runs per over for the first time. Nepal’s fielding woes further aided Pakistan’s charge, as misfields contributed to the mounting pressure on the bowling side.
In reply, Nepal’s batting crumbled in the face of Pakistan’s formidable pace attack. Shaheen Afridi’s initial breakthroughs set the tone for Nepal’s downfall. Despite a resilient effort from Sompal Kami, who top-scored with 28, the rest of Nepal’s lineup failed to offer any substantial resistance. Haris Rauf and Shadab Khan joined the party, securing crucial wickets to further dismantle Nepal’s batting order.
Shadab Khan’s spin proved particularly effective, as he finished with an impressive 4-wicket haul for 27 runs. Haris Rauf complemented Shadab’s efforts with 2 crucial wickets for just 16 runs. The Nepalese batsmen struggled to find their footing and were eventually bowled out for a mere 104 runs in the 24th over.
With this commanding 238-run victory, Pakistan marked a strong beginning to their Asia Cup campaign. Babar Azam’s sensational century and Iftikhar Ahmed’s maiden ton will undoubtedly serve as a morale boost for the team as they progress in the tournament. Meanwhile, Nepal faces an uphill battle as they look to regroup and bounce back from this tough defeat in their inaugural Asia Cup appearance.
Pakistan: 342/6 in 50 overs (Babar Azam 151, Iftikhar Ahmed 109*; Sompal Kami 2-85)
Nepal: 104 all out (Sompal Kami 28; Shadab Khan 4-27, Haris Rauf 2-16)
Result: Pakistan won by 238 runs