A record-breaking sensation unfolded as Pakistan fought with Nepal in the inaugural match of the Asia Cup 2023 held in Multan. The game witnessed an impressive series of achievements both at the individual and team levels during Pakistan’s batting innings.
Pakistan’s skipper, Babar Azam, won the coin toss and opted to bowl first against newcomers Nepal. Although the conditions seemed to favor the batsmen, Nepal’s disciplined bowling initially managed to keep the scoring rate in check.
Nepal’s determination eventually paid off as they secured vital wickets in the sixth and seventh overs, sending Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq back to the pavilion. This prompted a recovery led by Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, guiding Pakistan’s total beyond the 100-run threshold.
As the match progressed, Nepal continued to exert pressure during the middle overs, claiming the dismissals of Rizwan and Salman Agha. Nevertheless, Babar Azam combined forces with Iftikhar Ahmed to establish a strong position for Pakistan in the game.
Babar Azam, who holds the top spot in the MRF Tyres “ICC Men’s ODI Rankings for batsmen,” showcased his remarkable skills by accumulating an impressive 214 runs alongside Iftikhar Ahmed in just 131 deliveries. This partnership went on to become Pakistan’s highest fifth-wicket partnership in ODI cricket, surpassing the previous record of 176 runs set in 2009 by Umar Akmal and Younis Khan against Sri Lanka.
In an extraordinary achievement, Babar Azam notched his 19th ODI century during the 42nd over. His prolific century also marked him as the quickest player to achieve 19 ODI hundreds. Additionally, Babar now shares the second spot in Pakistan’s list of century-makers in ODI cricket, joining the ranks of legends Javed Miandad and Saeed Anwar, boasting a total of 31 international centuries.
Babar’s exceptional innings of 151 runs off 131 balls not only represented his second-highest score in ODI matches but also propelled him to the second position on the list of highest individual scores in the history of the Asia Cup. Additionally, Iftikhar Ahmed showcased his skills by achieving his highest ODI score of an unbeaten 109 runs from just 71 deliveries, marking his debut ODI century.
Pakistan’s batting display led them to a commanding total of 342/6 at the end of their innings, setting the stage for a thrilling contest.
While Pakistan displayed its dominance on the field, the looming threat of rain casts uncertainty over the Asia Cup’s upcoming matches. Despite the picturesque surroundings of Pallekele Stadium in Sri Lanka, the possibility of thunderstorms remains a concern. The clash between India and Pakistan, a highly anticipated fixture, hangs in the balance due to the unpredictable weather.
The Asia Cup’s scheduling during the late monsoon season poses a challenge, as the rain could potentially impact the matches. The focus is on the weather gods as cricket enthusiasts eagerly await the outcome of the tournament, hoping for clear skies to enjoy the enthralling clashes on the field.
The R Premadasa Stadium’s picturesque backdrop, resembling a bowl nestled amidst mountains, adds to the allure of the tournament. However, the uncertainty caused by the rain underscores the vulnerability of the Asia Cup to external factors.
Amidst the rain’s unpredictability, the anticipation among fans, hotels, and businesses remains high as they gear up for key rivalries and exciting matches. With a capacity crowd expected for the India-Pakistan encounter, the region’s hospitality sector is primed to embrace the tournament’s excitement, rain or shine.