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.