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Asia Cup 2023: Babar Azam’s century guides Pakistan to massive 238-run win over Nepal in Multan

Centuries from captain Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed guided hosts Pakistan to a massive 238-run win over Nepal in the opening match of the 2023 Asia Cup at the Multan Cricket Stadium.

Asia Cup 2023: Full Coverage

Babar won the toss for his side and opted to bat first. Pakistan lost the wickets of openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam ul Haq in quick succession and were left reeling at 25 for 2 after 6.1 overs.

However, an important partnership between skipper Babar Azam and wicket-keeping batter Mohammad Rizwan got their innings back on track. The two batters stitched an 86-run stand before Rizwan departed after scoring 44 runs off 50 balls.

Babar then formed a game-changing partnership with Iftikhar to turn the tide of the match. The two batters stuck around for a 214-run stand which saw both batters score centuries.

While Babar became just the second batter to cross the 150-run mark in Asia Cup history after India’s Virat Kohli, Iftikhar scored his maiden century in the 50-over format. And what a century it was, as the middle-order batter got to the landmark in just 67 deliveries, making him the fourth fastest batter and second-fastest Pakistani to score a century in the Asia Cup.

In fact, Iktikhar and Babar’s partnership of 214 runs is the highest partnership for fifth wicket in the Asia Cup. He remained unbeaten on 109 runs off 71 deliveries, smashing 11 boundaries and four sixes. His effort helped Pakistan post 342 for 6 on the scoreboard after 50 overs in Multan.

Nepal’s batting unit crumbles in Multan

Pakistan started the second innings on the front foot with fast-bowler Shaheen Afridi picking two wickets in the very first over, sending opener Kushal Bhurtel and captain Rohit Paudel back to the pavilion. The onslaught continued as pacer Naseem Shah removed Aasif Sheikh in the very next over to leave Nepal reeling at 14 for 3.

Following an underwhelming start, Sompal Kami and Aarif Sheikh formed a 59-run stand to settle Nepal’s innings. However, pacer Haris Rauf struck twice in quick succession to send both Kami and Aarif back. Kami scored 28 runs off 46 balls, while Aarif hit 26 runs off 38 deliveries.

Spin-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz joined the party in the 21st over, dismissing Dipendra Singh Airee to claim his first wicket of the evening. 17-year-old Gulshan Jha was the next to fall after Zaman took an amazing catch off Shadab Khan’s bowling.

Shadab then cleaned up spinner Sandeep Lamichhane as Nepal edged closer to a huge loss in their first-ever Asia Cup match. Shadab then made quick work on Nepal’s tail-enders, bowling the visitors out for 104 runs in 23.4 overs to guide his side to a massive 238-run victory.

Following their win against Nepal, Pakistan will turn their attention towards rivals India, with the two sides set to clash in a heavyweight matchup on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

Edited By:

Rounaq Sehrawat

Published On:

Aug 30, 2023

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