Host Pakistan will try to get their campaign off to a winning start when they face Nepal in the opening match of the 2023 Asia Cup on Wednesday at Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan.
Pakistan dominated Afghanistan in the three-match series in Sri Lanka, winning all three matches. Captain Babar Azam will be hoping that his team can maintain their winning streak in the first encounter of the Asia Cup 2023.
Nepal, on the other hand, failed to make a mark in the ICC World Cup Qualifier 2023, winning only one of the four matches contested in the campaign. Captain Rohit Paudel will be hopeful that the team can put on a good performance with the bat.
The pressure will be on skipper Babar Azam, openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-Ul-Haq, and the middle-order quartet of Mohammad Rizwan, Agha Salman, and Iftikhar Ahmed to produce the bulk of the runs.
Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam batted consistently for Pakistan in the previous series. Fakhar Zaman will be trying to regain form after failing to score many runs against Afghanistan.
In terms of bowling, the side will rely on the pace three of Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Haris Rauf to make early inroads with the new ball.
Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan will be the top slow bowling options in this opener.
Pakistan Predicted Player:
Babar Azam (captain), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Imam-Ul-Haq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Agha Salman, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah.
In the batting department, the team will rely on Aasif Sheikh, Rohit Paudel, Kushal Bhurtel, and Kushal Malla to provide the majority of the runs.
Aasif Sheikh has led Nepal’s batting records in the limited-overs format since August 2022. Aasif has 673 runs at an average of 30.59 in 25 ODIs, with one century and five half-centuries to his name.
Sandeep Lamichhane, Sompal Kami, Karan KC, and Dipendra Singh Airee will be relied on to make timely breakthroughs in the bowling department.
Sandeep Lamichhane has led Nepal’s one-day international bowling stats since August 2022. Lamichhane has 42 wickets at an average of 20.00 in 19 ODIs.
Nepal Predicted Player:
Rohit Paudel (captain), Arjun Saud, Kushal Malla, Kushal Bhurtel, Gyanendra Malla, Bhim Sarki, Aasif Sheikh, Dipendra Singh Airee, Sandeep Lamichhane, Karan KC, Sompal Kami.
The game’s prepared wicket will be ideal for batting, with some assistance for bowlers with the new-ball. The weather for the game on Wednesday is expected to be bright with a light breeze.
The first match of the 2023 Asia Cup between Pakistan and Nepal will be played at Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan. Pakistan will be encouraged by the fact that they have won their last five one-day matches at this venue.
Based on their recent performances, host Pakistan will be heavy favourites to win their opening encounter against Nepal. With players like Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, and Shaheen Afridi performing well this season, the team management would be aiming for an outstanding performance against Nepal.