The opening match of the Asia Cup ended with Nepal conceding 104 runs in 23.4 overs. On the other hand, Pakistani players do well with 342 runs in 50 overs.
Pakistan 342 for 6 beat Nepal 104 by 238 runs
Pakistan wins with centuries from Babar and Iftikhar
Babar Azam showcased a brilliant display of One Day International (ODI) batting skills, crafting a remarkable innings of 151 runs from 131 deliveries. His exceptional performance led Pakistan to a commanding victory over Nepal, triumphing by a massive margin of 238 runs in the inaugural game of the 2023 Asia Cup.
The match unfolded on a challenging pitch in Multan, where Nepal made early breakthroughs, putting Pakistan in a challenging situation. During this period of pressure, Babar demonstrated his skillful batting by steadily building the innings. It took him 72 deliveries to reach the milestone of fifty runs. As the innings progressed, he gradually escalated the pace of his scoring. He accelerated from 51 to 100 runs in just 37 balls, showcasing his ability to adapt to different game phases.
Upon achieving his well-deserved century, Babar shifted into a more aggressive mode reminiscent of Twenty20 (T20) cricket. In a span of 22 balls, he hammered an additional 51 runs, displaying a wide range of shots often associated with the shorter format of the game.
Suryakumar Yadav remarked that ODIs demand a batsman to employ skills from all three game formats. Babar Azam’s performance on Wednesday not only validated this statement but also served as a practical demonstration of how to seamlessly integrate the varying demands of different formats into one’s batting approach.
Nepal Face Pakistan 1st time:
Nepal, making their debut in the Asia Cup and encountering Pakistan for the first time in any format, displayed signs of inexperience and perhaps nervousness on multiple occasions. This rawness was evident from the outset. In the opening over of the match, Sompal Kami erred in direction a couple of times, straying down the leg side. Seizing the opportunity, Fakhar Zaman capitalized with two boundaries.
Yet, Nepal found solace in the sluggishness of the pitch and their effective fielding. The pitch’s lack of pace posed challenges, causing Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq to struggle with timing. Fakhar’s attempt to aggressively connect with a length ball from Karan resulted in a thick outside edge. Wicketkeeper Aasif Sheikh displayed agility, diving to his left and clutching the catch with both hands.
In the following over, Rohit Paudel showcased precision from mid-off, executing a direct hit that found Imam short of his crease. With Pakistan at a score of 25 for 2, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan embarked on the task of rebuilding the innings. Employing a cautious approach and intermittently finding boundaries, they navigated the team to 100 runs by the 22nd while minimizing risks.
However, Nepal mounted a counterattack, showcasing their fielding prowess once more. In this instance, Dipendra Singh Airee, positioned at cover, skillfully targeted the stumps at the bowler’s end.
His accurate throw found Mohammad Rizwan with his bat suspended and both feet airborne as the batsman attempted to evade the incoming throw. If Rizwan had followed a conventional running stride and grounded his bat, he would have secured his safety. Unfortunately, he departed after contributing 44 runs from 50 deliveries.
Pakistan vs Nepal Highlights:
While Nepal exhibited fielding skills akin to the World XI on specific occasions, they displayed a performance reminiscent of Ilford Second XI at other times. Despite their earlier lapse in dropping Imam when he was at 5 runs, they repeated their shortcomings by missing a catch from Babar Azam when he had reached 55 runs. Additionally, their lackadaisical attempts led to several misfields, further highlighting their inconsistency in the field.
After that phase, Babar Azam significantly increased his attacking approach. During the 45th over, he displayed remarkable aggression, consecutively striking Sompal Kami for four, four, and then a six. Following this onslaught, he continued his powerful performance by launching consecutive sixes off Sandeep Lamichhane’s deliveries.
Simultaneously, Iftikhar Ahmed exhibited even more ferocity in his batting display from the opposite end. Iftikhar’s forceful innings enabled Babar Azam to smoothly transition into a more aggressive batting mode.
Shaheen Shah Afridi emerged as the standout performer by claiming two crucial wickets right in the opening over of Nepal’s chase. Initially, he outfoxed Kushal Bhurtel, inducing a strangle down the leg side, leading to his dismissal. Following this, Afridi masterfully trapped Rohit Paudel lbw for a first-ball duck, asserting his dominance. The next over saw Naseem Shah’s brilliance as he had Aasif Sheikh caught at first slip, reducing Nepal to a difficult score of 14 for 3.
A glimmer of stability emerged from Aarif Sheikh and Sompal Kami, who collectively contributed 59 runs off 78 balls to Nepal’s innings. Regrettably, their partnership was short-lived for Nepal in the face of Haris Rauf’s fiery pace.
Rauf swiftly dismantled Aarif Sheikh’s defense before skillfully inducing an edge from Kami, resulting in a catch behind the stumps. Notably, Pakistan’s fast bowlers encountered a challenge in the humid weather, prompting Shaheen and Haris to momentarily exit the field for a breather after their initial spells.
Inevitably, Nepal’s lower-order batsmen proved no match for Shadab Khan’s deceptive variations. Employing a mixture of leg breaks and googlies, Khan dismantled their resistance, securing the last four wickets to conclude with impressive figures of 4 for 27.
Afghanistan matches are viewed here.