Babar Azam displayed a masterclass in one-day international batting, scoring 151 runs off 131 deliveries to help Pakistan defeat Nepal by 238 runs in the 2023 Asia Cup’s inaugural match.
Nepal’s early breakthroughs on a treacherous field in Multan had put Pakistan in a precarious position. Babar consolidated the innings during this time, reaching fifty after 72 deliveries.
Gradually increasing his pace, he went from 51 to 100 in 37 balls. After reaching his century, he switched to T20 mode and hit 51 runs off the next 22 deliveries.
Recently, Suryakumar Yadav stated that ODIs are difficult because batting is required in all three formats. Wednesday, Babar demonstrated the procedure.
Babar and Iftikhar Ahmed, who blasted an unbeaten 109 off 71 deliveries, added 214 off 131 balls in a fifth-wicket stand that propelled Pakistan to 342 for 6 with six wickets remaining.
Babar did not take the field, and Shadab Khan served as commander during the chase. Nepal was struck out for 104 runs in 23.4 overs, which was of little consequence.
Nepal was playing Pakistan for the first time in any format and for the first time in the Asia Cup. This inexperience and likely anxieties manifested themselves on multiple occasions.
In the first over of the match, Sompal Kami drifted down the leg side a few times, allowing Fakhar Zaman to score two fours.
However, the delay of the pitch and some excellent fielding rescued Nepal. Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq labored with coordination because the ball was not reaching the bat.
When Fakhar swung his bat at a length delivery from Karan and received a thick outside edge, wicketkeeper Aasif Sheikh reached to his left and grabbed the ball with both hands. In the following over, Rohit Paudel struck Imam short with a direct strike from mid-off.
With Pakistan reduced to 25-2, Babar and Mohammad Rizwan began reconstructing the batting order. They brought the team to 100 in the 22nd over by playing risk-free cricket and scooping up the occasional boundary.
However, Nepal responded, once again through their fielding. Rizwan’s bat and both feet were in the air as he attempted to prevent being struck by the throw when cover fielder Dipendra Singh Airee hit the stumps at the bowler’s end.
If Rizwan had run ordinarily and kept his bat on the ground, he would have been secure. He scored 44 out of 50 balls.
In the first three balls he encountered, Agha Salman attempted a sweep from well outside off and a reverse sweep, but neither stroke was successful.
Three overs later, he attempted another reverse sweep against Sandeep Lamichhane, but he is caught at short third.
Pakistan was in peril at 124 for 4, but Babar was unfazed. In 72 deliveries, he reached fifty by utilizing the cut shot effectively against rotation.
At moments Nepal resembled the World XI, while at others they resembled the Ilford Second XI. Having dropped Imam on 5, they then dropped Babar on 55, in addition to a number of other coincidental attempts that resulted in misfields.
Babar forced them to pay. He began locating the boundary with increasing frequency and reached his century in 109 deliveries. Appropriately, another cut shot against rotation propelled him to the milestone.
After that, he became much more frank. In the 45th over, he struck Kami for four, four, and six consecutively, before blasting two sixes off Lamichhane.
Iftikhar was even more vicious from the other side. In actuality, it was his knock that permitted Babar to progressively shift gears.
Iftikhar attacked immediately upon entering the crease. In the 35th over, he launched Kami over deep midwicket for the first six of the innings.
It took him just 67 deliveries against a hapless Nepal attack to reach his first ODI century. Iftikhar struck a total of 11 fours and four sixes as Pakistan amassed 129 runs in the final ten overs.
In the first over of the pursuit, Shaheen Shah Afridi captured two wickets. Before capturing Paudel leg before for a first-ball duck, he suffocated Kushal Bhurtel on the leg side. In the following over, Naseem Shah caught Aasif in first slip to make the score 14 for 3.
Aarif Sheikh and Kami added 59 runs off 78 deliveries to give the innings some stability, but they did not last long against Haris Rauf’s pace.
He began by defeating Aarif before capturing Kami from behind. The only opposition encountered by Pakistan’s fast bowlers was the muggy weather: both Shaheen and Haris were forced to take a break after their first deliveries.
The lower order of Nepal was no match for Shadab’s variants. Using a combination of legbreaks and googlies, he took the final four wickets to conclude with 4 for 27.