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PAK vs NEP: In the opening ODI of the Asia Cup 2023, Pakistan’s batting exhibited a blend of aggression and stability as Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq provided an initial push, but early wickets fell. A pivotal partnership between Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan steadied the innings during the middle overs. Nepal’s batting lineup struggled against the clinical bowling of Pakistan and was bundled out for a mere 104 runs in 23.4 overs

The standout highlight emerged from Babar’s commanding 150 and Iftikhar Ahmed’s debut century in a 214-run partnership, propelling Pakistan to an imposing total of 343. Despite Nepal’s bowlers showing variety and picking timely wickets, led by Sompal Kami’s double strike and Lalit Rajbanshi’s tight spin, Babar and Iftikhar’s brilliance took center stage.

Nepal’s chase faltered under Pakistan’s precise bowling, with Shadab Khan’s four-wicket haul leading the way. Nepal’s batting struggled to establish partnerships, ending with a mere 104 runs, unable to match Pakistan’s prowess.

The Asia Cup 2023 kicked off with an exhilarating match between hosts Pakistan and newcomers Nepal at the Multan Cricket Stadium. This edition of the tournament holds special significance as it marked the first time the Asia Cup was hosted in Pakistan.

Pakistan, arriving with a recent victory over Afghanistan, was considered the favorite with a strong batting lineup led by Babar Azam and a potent pace bowling unit featuring Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi.

On the other hand, Nepal, making their Asia Cup debut, had earned their place by winning the ACC Men’s Premier Cup. Led by Rohit Paudel, they brought a mix of experienced and promising players like Kushal Bhurtel, Aarif Sheikh, and Dipendra Singh Airee.

The match promised an exciting clash between the established ODI giants and the spirited underdogs, set against the backdrop of a sunny Multan day.

Match 01: Pakistan vs Nepal Highlights

PAK vs NEP Match 1 Asia Cup 2023 Match Summary Scorecard Image

1st Innings: Match 1 Asia Cup 2023

In Pakistan’s first ODI of Asia Cup 2023 against Nepal, their batting showcased a blend of aggression and stability. Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq made initial contributions, but wickets fell early. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan built a crucial partnership during the middle overs, countering Nepal’s bowlers and stabilizing the innings.

PAK vs NEP Match 1 Asia Cup 2023 Pakistan's Batting Partnership Scorecard Image

Babar’s and Iftikhar Ahmed’s magnificent partnership of 214 runs off 135 balls shone brightly. The 40-50 over phase witnessed dominance as Babar surged to a remarkable 150 and Iftikhar stunned with a debut century in 67 balls, showcasing Pakistan’s potent batting prowess. Nepal’s bowlers showed variety and timely wickets, but Pakistan’s batsmen, led by Babar, established a commanding total.

Pakistan’s Batting Highlights

PAK vs NEP Match 1 Asia Cup 2023 Pakistan's Batting Scorecard Image

In their first ODI against Nepal, Pakistan’s batting displayed a mix of aggression and stability. Fakhar Zaman’s 14 runs with two boundaries were cut short by a catch, while Imam-ul-Haq’s 5 runs ended with a run-out. Despite this, Pakistan notched 54 runs at 5.40 run rate. Babar Azam (12*) and Mohammad Rizwan (15*) stood firm. Middle overs saw Azam (61*) and Rizwan (37*) stabilize with a 50-run partnership, maintaining a 4.63 run rate.

Babar shone with a well-deserved half-century, but Rizwan’s unfortunate run-out stalled progress. 30-40 overs brought 83 runs, Babar’s composed 97* partnered with Iftikhar Ahmed’s (41) strong debut. The 40-50 overs marked dominance as Babar surged to a remarkable 150 and Iftikhar stunned with a debut century in 67 balls, showcasing Pakistan’s potent batting prowess and leaving an indelible mark on the match.

Nepal’s Bowling Highlights

PAK vs NEP Match 1 Asia Cup 2023 Nepal's Bowling Scorecard Image

Nepal’s bowlers showed a mix of strategies and variations in their first ODI against Pakistan.Sompal Kami took 2 crucial wickets for 85 runs in 10 overs (Econ: 8.50), while Karan KC took 1 wicket, conceding 54 runs in 9 overs (Econ: 6.00). Sandeep Lamichhane claimed 1 wicket for 69 runs in 10 overs (Econ: 6.90).

Lalit Rajbanshi’s spin was tight, giving away 48 runs in 10 overs (Econ: 4.80). Dipendra Singh Airee and Gulsan Jha held the line, conceding 40 runs in 6 overs (Econ: 6.67) and 35 runs in 4 overs (Econ: 8.75), respectively. Kushal Bhurtel’s 1 over cost 10 runs (Econ: 10.00). Though they took key wickets, Pakistan’s batsmen, led by Babar Azam, built a commanding total.

Nepal’s bowlers demonstrated variety, with Kami’s double strike posing challenges. KC and Lamichhane added pressure, while Rajbanshi kept the run flow controlled. Airee and Jha’s spells were economical, curbing scoring. Despite Pakistan’s strong total, Nepal’s bowling unit’s timely wickets and steady rhythm showcased their potential at the highest cricket level.

Fiery Flair: Pakistan’s Opening 10 Overs Packed with Action

In the first 10 overs of the Pakistan innings, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq set the stage, scoring 14 and 5 runs respectively. Fakhar Zaman’s aggressive play included two boundaries, but he was caught off a delivery by Karan KC. Imam-ul-Haq’s stint was cut short by a run-out caused by Rohit Paudel. Babar Azam then took the crease, partnering with Mohammad Rizwan. Despite these two quick wickets, Pakistan managed to accumulate 54 runs on the scoreboard at a run rate of 5.40.

During this phase, Babar Azam (12*) and Mohammad Rizwan (15*) emerged as the leading scorers, maintaining an unbeaten partnership. The bowlers from Nepal, including Sompal Kami, Karan KC, and Lalit Rajbanshi, showcased a mix of variations and lengths to challenge the batsmen. Notable moments included dropped catches, a run-out, and a total of seven boundaries in the first 10 overs. With a required run rate of 4.40, Pakistan aimed to consolidate their innings in pursuit of a competitive total.

Additionally, consecutive no-ball deliveries in the final over of the 1st powerplay brought a twist to the match. The first no-ball from Gulsan Jha allowed Babar Azam another chance, while a subsequent no-ball by Lalit Rajbanshi gave Mohammad Rizwan a “free hit” opportunity, resulting in a crucial boundary.

Rizwan-Babar Stand Rescues Pakistan Amid Nepal’s Bowling Pressure

Pakistan’s middle overs saw Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam orchestrating a vital partnership of 50 runs, steadying the innings after an early setback. Babar Azam’s elegant strokes and Rizwan’s aggressive sweeps drove the recovery, though Nepal’s bowlers, including Sandeep Lamichhane and Dipendra Singh Airee, maintained the pressure with their spin and flighted deliveries. Despite a few misfields and missed opportunities, Nepal managed to curtail Pakistan’s acceleration, setting the stage for a potentially crucial final push.

Steady Progress and Key Wickets Shape Middle Overs Battle

During the 20th to 30th overs of the cricket match, Pakistan accumulated a total of 139 runs for the loss of 4 wickets. Babar Azam displayed an impressive performance, remaining unbeaten with 61 runs off 79 balls, and anchoring the team’s innings. The run rate was maintained at a steady 4.63 throughout this phase. Notably, Babar Azam achieved a well-deserved half-century during this period.

Mohammad Rizwan, on 44 (50), was run out due to an unfortunate airborne moment as Dipendra Singh Airee’s direct hit found him short of the crease, revealing an uncharacteristic mistake by the experienced cricketer. Despite losing a crucial wicket, the partnership between Azam and Mohammad Rizwan (37* off 44 balls) contributed to Pakistan’s stability. The bowlers from the opposing team, Lalit Rajbanshi and Sandeep Lamichhane, had notable spells with figures of 0/34 and 0/26 respectively, adding to the intensity of the match.

Steady Accumulation and Partnership Building

Between the 30th and 40th overs, Pakistan added 83 runs to their total of 213/4, maintaining a steady run rate of 5.33. Babar Azam led the charge with a composed knock of 97* off 107 balls, effectively rotating the strike and finding the gaps. His partnership with Iftikhar Ahmed, who contributed 41 runs off 37 balls, bolstered Pakistan’s middle-overs performance.

Nepal’s bowlers, especially Lalit Rajbanshi and Karan KC, managed to contain the batsmen with their variations, while the fielders’ efforts curtailed boundary opportunities. Overall, Pakistan’s steady partnership-building and Nepal’s disciplined bowling and fielding defined this phase of the innings.

Pakistan’s Dominant Batting Display in the 40th-50th Over Innings

In the 40th to 50th over of their innings, Pakistan unleashed a dominating batting performance that left a significant mark on their first ODI encounter against Nepal. Leading from the front, Babar Azam’s remarkable century paved the way for an extraordinary display of skill and determination. His elegant strokeplay and strategic shot selection allowed him to reach his century off 109 deliveries, setting the stage for a sensational innings.

As the innings progressed, Babar Azam’s prowess was on full display as he accelerated his scoring rate and reached an impressive 150 runs. The elegance of his shots and the precision of his timing showcased his prowess as a premier batsman. Azam’s innings not only anchored Pakistan’s batting lineup but also provided the much-needed momentum for a formidable total.

The spotlight, however, was shared with Iftikhar Ahmed, who marked his first ODI with an outstanding debut century. Ahmed’s fearless approach and calculated aggression led him to a remarkable maiden hundred achieved in just 67 deliveries. His innings added depth to Pakistan’s batting lineup, amplifying their dominance and allowing them to amass a formidable total. With Babar Azam’s century, Azam’s exceptional 150, and Ahmed’s debut hundred, Pakistan’s batting prowess was at its zenith during these crucial overs, leaving a lasting impression on the match.

2nd Innings: Match 1 Asia Cup 2023

Nepal faced the formidable challenge of chasing down 343 runs set by Pakistan. Nepal’s batting lineup grappled with the precision of Pakistan’s bowlers. Under the evening floodlights, Nepal could only muster a meager 104 runs in 23.4 overs, as the clinical Pakistani bowlers, particularly Shadab Khan, displayed remarkable swing skills. Shadab Khan’s exceptional four-wicket haul for 27 runs in 6.4 overs stood out, exploiting the swinging ball and consistently outwitting Nepal’s batsmen.

Nepal’s Batting Highlights

  • In the first 10 overs, Nepal scored 47 runs for the loss of 3 wickets.
  • Aarif Sheikh was batting at 14* off 23 balls, and Sompal Kami was at 15* off 27 balls.
  • A few boundaries were scored, but the overall scoring rate was 4.70, below the required run rate of 7.40.
  • Gulsan Jha attempted aggressive play but was caught by Fakhar Zaman.
  • Dipendra Singh Airee struggled and was dismissed by Mohammad Nawaz’s arm ball.
  • Kushal Malla managed to hit a six off Mohammad Nawaz.
  • Batting stability was lacking due to regular fall of wickets.
  • Overall, Nepal’s batting faced challenges in building momentum and sustaining partnerships.

Pakistan’s Bowling Highlights

  • Naseem Shah bowled well, taking 1 wicket for 17 runs in his 5 overs.
  • Pakistan’s bowlers maintained pressure, restricting Nepal’s scoring.
  • Shadab Khan’s spin bowling was exceptional, taking 4 wickets and causing significant damage.
  • Mohammad Nawaz dismissed Dipendra Singh Airee and also got Sandeep Lamichhane out.
  • The bowlers’ combined efforts disrupted Nepal’s batting momentum.
  • Nepal struggled to consistently find boundaries due to Pakistan’s effective bowling strategies.

Early Struggles for Nepal as Shaheen and Naseem Shine

In the first 10 overs of the 2nd innings of the 1st ODI in the Asia Cup 2023, Nepal scored 47 runs for the loss of 3 wickets. The current run rate was 4.70, and they required a run rate of 7.40 to win. Aarif Sheikh was batting at 14* off 23 balls, and Sompal Kami was at 15* off 27 balls.

Naseem Shah bowled well for Pakistan, taking 1 wicket for 17 runs in his 5 overs. The batsmen struggled to find consistent boundaries, with only a few fours being scored. Pakistan’s bowlers maintained pressure on Nepal’s batting lineup during this phase of the match.

Bowlers Dominate as Nepal Struggles to Build Momentum

In the last few overs of the cricket match, Nepal faced a tough challenge against the opposing team. Over 21 saw significant action as Nepal lost crucial wickets. Gulsan Jha attempted to play aggressively but ended up miscuing a shot, resulting in a remarkable diving catch by Fakhar Zaman. Dipendra Singh Airee, who had been struggling to find his form, was dismissed by Mohammad Nawaz’s deceptive arm ball that went through his defense and hit the stumps. Nepal’s batting was under pressure, with the run rate increasing steadily.

As the overs progressed, Nepal’s batting woes continued. Shadab Khan’s brilliant spell caused further damage. Sandeep Lamichhane was deceived by a googly, resulting in his stumps being shattered. Kushal Malla and Gulsan Jha tried to stabilize the innings, with Malla hitting a well-timed six off Mohammad Nawaz. However, the fall of wickets disrupted any momentum they were building. Shadab Khan’s skillful spin bowling yielded him four wickets, making it difficult for Nepal to put up a competitive total.