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Ball wasn’t coming on, pitch was two-paced, says Babar Azam after match-winning 151

Asia Cup: Ball wasn’t coming on, pitch was two-paced, says Babar Azam after match-winning 151. Image Source: IANS News

Multan, Aug 30 : After spearheading Pakistan’s massive 238-run win over Nepal to start their 2023 Asia Cup on a bright note, skipper Babar Azam said his knock of 151 off 131 balls wasn’t an easy one as the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat and pitch was two-paced.

Electing to bat first on a dry pitch, Pakistan lost their openers early and had suffered a middle-overs slump. But Babar and Iftikhar (109 not out off 71 balls) shared a sensational 214-run partnership off 131 balls for the fifth wicket, the highest-ever for Pakistan at this position in the ODIs, as they reached 342-6, and later bowl out Nepal for just 104.

“When I went in, I played a couple of balls. Ball wasn’t coming on, pitch was two-paced. Rizwan and I built the partnership and see what happened. Sometimes, Rizwan gave me confidence and vice-versa,” said Babar after the match.

With the bat, once Babar reached his 19th ODI hundred coming in 107 balls, after getting his fifty in 73 balls. Iftikhar began to change gears for playing a counter-attacking innings and reaching his century in just 67 balls, also his first international hundred, thus changing the complexion of the match.

The duo then accelerated in stunning fashion, as Babar went from 100 to 150 in just 22 balls, by taking on Nepal’s bowlers to amass a whopping 129 runs in the last ten overs of Pakistan’s innings.

“When Iftikhar came, the tempo changed. He played well too. After two-three fours, he was comfortable, he smacked it after 40 overs. I’m satisfied. A couple of overs we were not up to the mark,” added Babar.

With the ball, leg-spinner Shadab Khan took four wickets while Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf took two wickets each, followed by Naseem Shah and Mohammad Nawaz taking a scalp each. Pakistan next face India in a highly-anticipated clash on September 2 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.

“Pacers did well, spinners struck too. This game was good preparation for the India game because it gave us confidence. We want to give 100% every match, hope to do that there as well,” stated Babar.

Nepal skipper Rohit Paudel credited Babar for batting Nepal out of the match and noted the bowlers have to improve in last ten overs. “We started well. We restricted them to under 240 with the ball but let ourselves down with the bat.”

“Wicket-taking balls weren’t there in the middle overs, credit goes to Babar and their team as well. Learning from the game is we need to improve in the death overs, and we need to do well with the ball.”

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