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LAHORE: Pakistan’s dominant performance with both bat and ball secured a comprehensive win over Nepal in Asia Cup opening match at Multan.

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.

Scores in Brief:

Pakistan beat Nepal by 238 runs

Pakistan: 342-6 in 50 overs (Babar Azam 151, Iftikhar Ahmed 109 not out; Sompal Kami 2-85, Karan KC 1-54, Sandeep Lamichhane 1-69)

Nepal: 104 all out in 23.4 overs (Sompal Kami 28, Aarif Sheikh 26; Shadab Khan 4-27, Haris Rauf 2-16, Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-27)

Player of the Match: Babar Azam (Pakistan).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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