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The Times of India
The Times of India

How Pakistan blew away Nepal in Asia Cup opener

NEW DELHI: World no.1 ODI team Pakistan kicked off their Asia Cup campaign in a rampaging fashion, crushing minnows Nepal by a massive 238 runs in a lop-sided opener in Multan on Wednesday.

After centurions Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed took the clueless Nepal bowlers to the cleaners at the Multan Cricket Stadium, the batters surrendered against top-notch Pakistani pace bowling attack, handing the hosts their first win of the tournament.

On a batting beauty, both Babar and Iftikhar went hammer and tongs, lifting Pakistan to 342 for 6. The Shaheen Afridi-led bowling attack then ran through the Nepalese top-order with the new balls, deciding the fate of the match very early in the second innings. Haris Rauf and spinners then wrapped up the proceedings quickly as Nepal folded for 104 in the 24th over.

1/10:Asia Cup 2023: Pakistan crush Nepal


2/10:Pakistan thrash Nepal

<p>Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed scored hundreds as Pakistan thrashed Nepal by 238 runs in the opening game of the Asia Cup in Multan on Wednesday. </p>AFP

3/10:Babar Azam

<p>Skipper Azam smashed a 131-ball 151 for his 19th ODI hundred while Ahmed scored an unbeaten 109 in 71 balls for his first as Pakistan piled up 342-6 in 50 overs. </p>AFP

4/10:​Pakistan bundle out Nepal

<p>Pakistan then bundled out Nepal for 104 in 23.4 overs with leg-spinner Shadab Khan taking 4-27 while the pace duo of Haris Rauf took 2-16 and Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-27. </p>AFP

5/10:Sompal Kami

<p>Only Sompal Kami (28), Aarif Sheikh (26) and Gulsan Jha (13) made it into double figures as Nepal struggled against Pakistan's much-vaunted bowling attack. </p>AFP

6/10:Iftikhar Ahmed

<p>Nepal bowled well to keep Pakistan down to 124-4 in the 28th over but were helpless in the final overs against the onslaught from Azam and Ahmed. </p>AFP

7/10:Match-winning stand

<p>Azam and Ahmed added a robust 214 off 131 balls for the fifth wicket, which took Pakistan to a formidable total. </p>AFP

8/10:Final flourish

<p>Azam cracked 14 boundaries and four sixes while Ahmed hit 11 boundaries and four sixes, helping Pakistan to 129 runs in the last 10 overs including 67 in the final five. </p>AFP

9/10:Fakhar Zaman

<p>Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman for 14 in the sixth over, while Imam-ul-Haq was run out for five to leave Pakistan tottering at 25-2. </p>AFP

10/10:Mohammad Rizwan

<p>Azam added 86 for the third wicket with Mohammad Rizwan (44) before Rizwan was also run out and Agha Salman fell for 5. </p>AFP
Asia Cup 2023: Pakistan crush Nepal

The win is now Pakistan's third biggest in terms of runs in ODIs.

Here's a look at the key moments of the Pakistan vs Nepal Asia Cup opener.

As It Happened

Early trouble

After skipper Babar Azam won the toss and opted to bat, Nepal bowlers made early inroads, removing openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq inside the first seven overs. While Zaman fell chasing a wide Karan KC delivery outside off for 14, Imam terribly misjudged a run as Rohit Paudel pulled off a superb direct hit, getting rid of the left-hander for 5. Skipper Babar and Mohammad Rizwan then joined hands to stitch an 86-run third-wicket partnership, steadying the hosts after early setbacks. But then, against the run of play, Rizwan got run out in the 24th over in a bizarre manner for 44. Leggie Sandeep Lamichhane then got rid of Agha Salman for 5 as Nepal looked to take advantage of the double breakthroughs.

Babar, Iftikhar show

At just over the halfway mark, Pakistan found themselves struggling a bit at 124 for 4 when Iftikhar Ahmed joined Babar in the middle. While his skipper continued to build the innings, Iftikhar looked a bit more proactive, taking on the Nepal bowlers. The duo batted beautifully against the Nepal bowlers, respecting the occasional good balls and dispatching the bad one regularly to the fence. As the partnership between Babar and Iftikhar kept one going, Nepal found themselves under pressure, bowling too many bad balls along with quite a few misfields. As Babar raised his 19th ODI ton off 109 balls in the 42nd over, he then took, scoring his next 50 runs in no time. As boundaries rained, Iftikhar got to his maiden three-figure mark off just 67 balls. The mammoth 131-ball 214 partnership was eventually broken in the final over.

The records

Firing a superb 151, Babar became the fastest batter to score 19 ODI hundreds. The 28-year-old raced to his 19th ton in his 102nd innings, bettering the record of former South Africa batter Hashim Amla, who took 104 innings. With the ton, Babar also drew level with Pakistan legends Javed Miandad and Saeed Anwar as he now has 31 international hundreds under his belt -- 19 in ODIs, 9 in Tests and 3 in T20Is. The 150-plus score was also Babar's second in the format. Iftikhar, at the other end, fired his maiden ton of the format and became the fastest centurion (67 balls) in ODIs in Pakistan. Pakistan scored a massive 129 runs in the final 10 overs to finish at a towering 342 for 6.

New-ball masterclass

The renowned Pakistani pace attack got going in style as Shaheen Afridi (2/27) grabbed a couple of wickets in the very first over of the chase. After Kushal Bhurtel was caught behind for 8, the very next ball was a Afridi special, a fiery yorker, tailing back into Rohit Paudel and trapping him in front for a golden duck. In the very next over, Naseem Shah (1/17) removed Aasif Sheikh for 5 as Nepal found themselves reeling at 14 for 3 inside the first two overs.

Menacing Rauf

After the top-order collapse, Aarif Sheikh (26) and Sompal Kami (28) did manage to survive Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah onslaught, adding 59 runs for the fourth wicket. But then, they were up against the sheer pace of Haris Rauf (2/16). The speed merchant clocked 150 kph deliveries at will, rattling both Sheikh and Sompal. As both fell in the 15th and the 17th overs respectively, it triggered another collapse for Nepal. Shadab Khan (4/27) and Mohammad Nawaz (1/13) then wrapped up things pretty quickly as Nepal folded for 104 in 23.4 overs.

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