Captain Babar Azam opened up on the plan he and Iftikhar Ahmed followed to rescue the Pakistan team from a tricky position against Nepal in the Asia Cup 2023 opener. Babar and Iftikhar shared a massive 214-run stand for the fifth wicket to help Pakistan cross the 300-run mark at Multan Cricket Stadium. The hosts lost their openers early which put them on the backfoot in the powerplay. However, Babar (151) and Mohammad Rizwan (44) shared an 86-run stand to lead Pakistan’s recovery but the latter was run out after a brain-fade moment. Pakistan lost Afgha Salman (5) in quick succession which put the pressure back on them.
Iftikhar’s arrival allowed Babar to take his time before switching gears to attack the Nepal bowlers all around the park.
Babar was also named Player of the Match for his 151-run knock which was laced with 14 fours and 4 sixes.
The Pakistan captain talked about the struggles in the initial phase of the innings when batting was not very easy.
“When I went in, the ball wasn’t coming on properly, so I was trying to build an innings with Rizwan. Then we had a different phase, sometimes Rizwan gave me confidence, sometimes I gave him belief,” Babar said in the post-match presentation.
He also talked about his stand with Iftikhar which pulled Pakistan out of trouble. The skipper revealed his chat with the 32-year-old when he arrived in the muddle.
“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 2-3 boundaries,” he added.
Babar further heaped praise on his bowlers for their clinical performance as they bundled out Nepal for just 104.
“A couple of overs we weren’t up to the mark, but the way our pacers started and then the spinners were brilliant,” he said.
The ICC number 1-ranked batter also shared his views about their upcoming match against arch-rivals India and said that the win on Wednesday will boost their morale before the big-ticket clash.
“This win will give us confidence, India-Pakistan will always bring high intensity, we will try our best,” he concluded.
India and Pakistan will clash against each other on September 2 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Pallekele.