Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed Deliver a Commanding Performance against Nepal, Scoring 342-6

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In the opening match of the Asia Cup in Multan, world number one batter Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed displayed an exceptional performance, scoring punishing centuries as Pakistan reached a formidable total of 342-6 against Nepal.

Pakistan’s skipper, Babar Azam, smashed a remarkable 151 runs off 131 balls, while Iftikhar Ahmed scored his maiden century with an unbeaten 109 runs in just 71 balls. Nepal, participating in the Asia Cup for the first time, initially contained the home team quite well by limiting them to 124-4 in the 28th over. However, they struggled against the onslaught from Azam and Ahmed in the final overs.

The duo established a robust partnership of 214 runs off 131 balls for the fifth wicket, turning the tables in Pakistan’s favor. Azam’s decision to bat after winning the toss was justified by their outstanding performance. Azam hit 14 boundaries and four sixes, while Ahmed secured 11 boundaries and four sixes, contributing to Pakistan’s 129 runs in the last 10 overs, including 67 runs in the final five.

During his innings, Azam received a lucky break when Karan Chhetri dropped a caught-and-bowled chance when he was at 55. Nepal’s ground fielding also suffered several mishaps throughout the match.

Pakistan had a precarious start with opener Fakhar Zaman dismissed early on with just 14 runs on the board, and Imam-ul-Haq getting run out for a mere five runs. At 25-2, the team was in trouble. However, Azam and Mohammad Rizwan (44 runs) managed to add 86 runs for the third wicket before Rizwan was also run out. Agha Salman fell for just five runs, leaving Azam and Ahmed to lead a rescue operation.

Ahmed’s previous best ODI score was an unbeaten 94 against New Zealand in Karachi earlier this year. Nepal’s fast bowler, Sompal Kami, was their best performer with figures of 2-85.

This year’s Asia Cup is played on a hybrid model, with Pakistan hosting four matches and Sri Lanka hosting nine, as India declined the invitation to tour Pakistan due to political tensions.

Teams

Pakistan: Babar Azam (captain), Shadab Khan, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi

Nepal: Rohit Paudel (captain), Kushal Bhurtel, Aarif Sheikh, Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Gulsan Jha, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, Sandeep Lamichhane, Lalit Rajbanshi

Match Officials

Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (NZL) and Masudur Rahman (BAN)
TV Umpire: Langton Rusere (ZIM)
Match Referee: David Boon (AUS)

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