By a staff reporter
Kathmandu – Nepal have suffered a 238-run loss against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023 opener. Nepal who were chasing a target of 342 runs were bundled out at 104 runs in 23.4 overs.
Sompal Kami scored 28 runs in 46 deliveries with four fours and remained the top run-getter for Nepal in the match followed by 26 off 38 from Aarif with five boundaries.
Nepal lost two wickets in the very first over after Shaheen Shah Afridi sent Kushal Bhurtel and skipper Rohit Paudel back to the pavilion. Kushal scored eight runs off four deliveries while Rohit got out on the first ball. Opener Aasif Sheikh scored five runs before being caught behind off Naseem Shah’s delivery.
Chasing a mammoth total, Nepal tackled the Pakistani pace attack well early on and crumbled against them along with the spinners later on. Gulsan Jha scored 13 runs, Dipendra Singh Airee scored three, Kushal Malla scored six runs while Karan KC remained not out on seven. Sandeep Lamichhane and Lalit Rajbanshi couldn’t add to Nepal’s total.
Leg-break bowler Shadab Khan took four wickets for Pakistan. Pacers Haris Rauf and Shaheen Shah Afridi took two apiece while pacer Naseem Shah and spinner Mohammad Nawaz took one wicket each.
Earlier, Pakistan, after winning the toss, chose to bat and scored 342-6. World number one batter and Pakistan skipper Babar Azam played a stellar innings of 151 runs with 14 fours and four sixes while Iftikhar Ahmed scored a quickfire ton, managing to score an unbeaten 109 in 71 deliveries with 11 fours and four sixes. It was Iftikhar’s maiden international ODI ton, while Babar got to his 19th ODI century.
Nepal made a decent start in the powerplay, sending both openers back to the dugout. Karan KC sent Fakhar Zaman back to the pavilion on 14 runs in the sixth over. He was caught behind by Aasif Sheikh. Imam-ul-Haq was run out with a direct hit by skipper Rohit Paudel in the next over. He made five runs off 14 deliveries.
After the fall of two wickets, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan put on a partnership of 86 runs in 106 deliveries before the latter was run out by Dipendra Singh Airee on 44 runs. Agha Salman made five off 14 deliveries and was sent back to the pavilion by Sandeep Lamichhane.
Babar Azam, who was still at the crease and looked set partnered with Iftikhar Ahmed for a partnership of 214 runs. Babar was dismissed in the final over by Sompal Kami. Shadab Khan scored four runs in two deliveries and was dismissed in the final ball of the innings.
Sompal took two wickets giving away 85 runs in the process in ten overs. Karan took one wicket for 54 runs in nine overs while Sandeep Lamichhane took one wicket for 69 runs in ten overs.
Nepal will take on India in the second match of the group stages on Monday, September 4. The top two sides in the two groups will qualify for the Super Four stage which will be a round-robin stage. The top two teams in the Super Four will head to the final. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanisthan make up the group B.
Sri Lanka will take on Bangladesh in the second match of the tournament tomorrow. The match will begin at 3:15 PM NST.