Multan Cricket Stadium witnessed a batting masterclass as Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed guided their team to a comprehensive 238-run victory over Nepal in the Asia Cup opener. In a scintillating display of batting prowess, Captain Babar Azam showcased his class by notching up a spectacular 151 off 131 balls. Despite losing early wickets, Babar, along with Iftikhar Ahmed, engineered a remarkable turnaround with a record-breaking 214-run partnership for the fifth wicket.

Iftikhar Ahmed’s Century: Changing the Game

Iftikhar Ahmed complemented Babar’s brilliance with a breathtaking century of his own, scoring an unbeaten 109 off just 71 balls. His aggressive innings shifted the momentum firmly in Pakistan’s favour. The duo’s partnership was not only the highlight of the innings but also the highest-ever fifth-wicket partnership for Pakistan in ODIs.

Pakistan Sets a Daunting Target: 343 for Nepal

Pakistan concluded their innings at an imposing total of 342-6. This meant that Nepal faced a daunting target of 343 runs to win, a task that seemed herculean from the outset.

Nepal’s Struggle: Pakistan’s Bowlers Dominate

Nepal, making their Asia Cup debut, struggled to cope with Pakistan’s bowling attack. They were eventually bowled out for a mere 104 runs in 23.4 overs, crumbling under pressure. Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Haris Rauf made early inroads, leaving Nepal reeling. Leg-spinner Shadab Khan played a pivotal role, taking four wickets in a clinical bowling display.

Babar’s Record-Breaking Century: A Landmark Achievement

Babar Azam’s century was not just a match-winning effort; it also etched his name in the record books. He became the fastest batsman to reach 19 centuries in ODIs, accomplishing the feat in just 102 innings, surpassing South Africa’s Hashim Amla. Babar’s innings, comprising 14 fours and four sixes, was a testament to his impeccable timing and elegant strokeplay.

Pakistan’s Early Woes: Openers Falter

Despite their eventual triumph, Pakistan did encounter some early setbacks. Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq fell within the first ten overs. Zaman edged behind off Karan KC, while Imam was run out after a mix-up. However, Babar’s resilience held Pakistan’s innings together.

Iftikhar’s Explosive Innings: A Game-Changer

Iftikhar Ahmed’s remarkable counter-attacking innings changed the complexion of the game. His century came in just 67 balls, making it his first international hundred. He struck 11 fours and four sixes during his innings, propelling Pakistan past the 300-run mark.

Pakistan’s Commanding Start

Pakistan’s emphatic victory over Nepal in the Asia Cup opener showcased their batting depth and bowling prowess. Captain Babar Azam’s record-breaking century and Iftikhar Ahmed’s explosive innings set the stage for a dominating performance. As Pakistan heads into the tournament, they will look to build on this strong start and continue their winning momentum.

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