In a spectacular kick-off to the Asia Cup 2023, Pakistan showcased their supremacy as they claimed a commanding 238-run victory over Nepal in Multan on Wednesday. The clash saw standout performances from Babar Azam, the world’s top-ranked batsman, and Iftikhar Ahmed. Babar’s impressive century of 151 runs from 131 deliveries marked his 19th ODI ton, while Iftikhar’s unbeaten 109 runs off 71 balls secured his debut century in the format. This partnership powered Pakistan to an imposing total of 342/6 before their bowlers effortlessly dismantled Nepal’s batting order, dismissing them for a mere 104 runs in 23.4 overs.
Despite their resounding success, Pakistan faced initial setbacks with openers Fakhar Zaman (14) and Imam-ul-Haq (9) departing early. The continuous lack of form displayed by Fakhar, evident in his recent ODI series against Afghanistan, has raised concerns within the team management. His scores of 2, 30, and 27 in the series and the Asia Cup opener have ignited discussions about his readiness for key matches, including the upcoming game against arch-rivals India and the subsequent Asia Cup and ODI World Cup fixtures in October-November.
Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja believes Fakhar Zaman requires an extended break to regain his form and focus. Analyzing Fakhar’s unorthodox batting style, Ramiz stated that players of such a nature need time to rediscover their rhythm and tactics. The urgency of the matter is accentuated by the pressure an out-of-form opener places on the team, particularly if Imam-ul-Haq also falls cheaply.
The upcoming clash against India in Group A promises to be electrifying, with Pakistan facing their arch-rivals on Saturday. Babar Azam’s squad traveled to Kandy for the high-stakes game, while India aims to initiate their campaign with a triumphant start against Pakistan. As both teams have the potential to meet thrice in the tournament, provided they advance to the Super Fours and the final, the stage is set for intense cricket battles that fans are eagerly awaiting.