Pakistan captain Babar Azam said his team will be brimming with confidence for Saturday’s Asia Cup blockbuster against arch-rivals India after kicking off their campaign with a comprehensive victory against Nepal on Wednesday.
Babar led from the front with a masterly 151 and Iftikhar Ahmed produced an unbeaten 109 to power Pakistan to a commanding 342-6 at the Multan Cricket Stadium before skittling out Asia Cup debutants Nepal for 104 in 23.4 overs for what was their third-biggest victory in a one-day internationals.
“This game was good preparation for the India game because it gave us confidence,” Babar, who was named Player of the Match for his 19th one-day hundred, said.
“India-Pakistan will always bring high intensity. We want to give 100% in every match, hope to do that there as well.”
Against Nepal, Babar took 72 balls to bring up his 50 but the number one ranked ODI batsman soon stepped on the gas and raced to a 109-ball hundred. After that, he batted in T20 fashion, milking 51 off the next 22 balls he faced.
“When I went in, the ball wasn’t coming on properly, so I was trying to build an innings with Rizwan,” Babar explained.
“Iftikhar also played a great innings when he came on.
“When he came in, I told him to play his natural game and he was comfortable after hitting two-three boundaries.”
Pakistan team reached Kandy ahead India clash
After kicking off their Asia Cup campaign in style, the Pakistan men's cricket team arrived in Kandy on Thursday ahead of the clash against India.
After clinching the victory, Pakistan left for Kandy after catching a late-night flight.
Pakistan, India and Nepal are in Group A while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are in Group B. The tournament will follow a hybrid model with Pakistan hosting four matches across two venues and Sri Lanka hosting the remaining games.
The six group-stage matches will be followed by the Super Fours beginning September 6.
The final will be played by the top two teams at the end of the Super Fours on September 17 in Colombo.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.
Pakistan: Babar Azam (c), Abdullah Shafique, Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Haris, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Usama Mir, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Saud Shakeel, Tayyab Tahir (travelling reserve).