Pakistan kicked off the Asia Cup 2023 tournament with a dominant 238-run win over Nepal on Wednesday, August 30. Captain Babar Azam recorded his only second 150-plus knock and Iftikhar Ahmed shone with his maiden ODI century to help Pakistan score a total of 342 runs while batting first. Then the star spinner Shadab Khan took four wickets to bowl out Nepal on just 104 runs to help Pakistan give Pakistan a perfect start in the tournament.
Babar won the toss and elected to bat first at Multan Cricket Stadium but Pakistan lost both their openers with just 25 runs on the scoreboard. But Babar continued his red-hot form across formats and once against proved his ICC ODI rankings to treat home fans with another sensational hundred. He took his time to settle and was cautious with his early approach. But shifted the gear once he scored a fifty and then went on to score 151 runs off 131 balls, the second-highest individual score in Asia Cup history.
Mohammad Rizwan contributed with a 44 off 50 knock but it was Iftikhar Ahmed’s explosive innings that boosted Pakistan to a mammoth total. Iftikhar smashed a 67-ball hundred to bring his maiden ODI century in style. He remained unbeaten on 109 off 71 balls as Pakistan scored a total of 342 for 6 in 50 overs. Sompal Kami took two wickets while Sandeep Lamichhane and Karan KC picked one each for disappointing Nepal.
Nepal also struggled for a good start and had no answer against Pakistan’s in-form pace attack. Shaheen Afridi took two back-to-back wickets in the innings’ very first over to ensure an early win for the hosts. Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf also produced impressive spells and never gave Nepal a chance to fight back. Shadab Khan finished the lower order with the highest four wickets while conceding just 27 runs.
Nepal Playing XI: Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh (wk), Rohit Paudel (c), Aarif Sheikh, Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gulsan Jha, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Lalit Rajbanshi
Pakistan Playing XI: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf
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