Pakistan set the tone with convincing win over Nepal in Asia Cup opener

LAHORE - Pakistan’s dominant performance with both bat and ball secured a compre­hensive win over Nepal. Babar Azam’s masterclass with the bat set the tone for a high-scoring innings, while Iftikhar Ahmed’s explosive knock provided the finishing touches. The bowlers, led by Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, and Shadab Khan, dismantled Nepal’s bat­ting line-up to seal the victory. 

Chasing a challenging target of 343 runs, Nepal faced an early setback as Kushal Bhurtel was dismissed for just 8 runs. The wickets continued to tumble for Nepal as Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf wreaked havoc with their pace and accuracy. Aarif Sheikh showed resistance with a gutsy 26, but the rest of the batting line-up struggled to cope with the pres­sure exerted by Pakistan’s bowlers. 

Shadab Khan’s spin proved to be the un­doing of Nepal’s middle order, as he claimed four vital wickets. The Nepal batters strug­gled to find their rhythm against Shadab’s variations and impeccable line and length. As a result, Nepal’s innings came to a swift end at 104 runs in 23.4 overs. 

Earlier after opting to bat first, Paki­stan’s captain Babar Azam led from the front, showcasing his sublime skills with a scintillating knock of 151 runs off 131 balls. His innings was marked by 14 boundaries and four towering sixes, as he anchored the team’s innings and guided them to a formidable total. Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq were dismissed in quick succession due to brilliant efforts in the field by Nepal. 

Mohammad Rizwan contributed a crucial 44 runs, displaying his ability to find gaps and rotate the strike ef­fectively. Iftikhar Ahmed then stole the show with a breathtaking display of power-hitting, smashing an unbeaten 109 off just 71 balls, which included 11 boundaries and four sixes. He was involved in a 214-run partnership with Babar Azam – the highest fifth-wicket stand for Pakistan in ODIs as the duo’s efforts propelled Pakistan to 342-6. 

Today’s cricket action promises to be exciting as Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka at Pallekele International Crick­et Stadium. Meanwhile, fans are ea­gerly waiting for the highly-anticipated showdown between Pakistan and In­dia, scheduled for September 2. 

Earlier, the Asia Cup 2023 com­menced with a dazzling inaugural ceremony held at the Multan Cricket Stadium. The event was graced by the mesmerizing performances of celebrat­ed singers; Pakistan’s very own Aima Baig and Nepal’s sensation Trishala Gu­rung. Their enthralling acts captivated not only the spectators in attendance but also resonated with viewers watch­ing the ceremony on television screens. 

Meanwhile, Pakistan cricket team will depart for Kandy, Sri Lanka in the wee hours of Thursday (August 31) for the second Group-A match against In­dia scheduled at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium on September 2. The team will participate in a training session at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium from 6 pm till 8 pm on Friday.

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