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Just asked Iftikhar to play his natural game, reveals Babar Azam

Last updated on 30 Aug 2023 | 07:27 PM
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Just asked Iftikhar to play his natural game, reveals Babar Azam

Iftikhar Ahmed played with immense freedom in an innings that had him scoring his maiden hundred at an SR of 153.52

The first game of the Asia Cup 2023 ended on an excellent note for Pakistan as they beat the newbies Nepal by 238 runs. The match played in front of a sparse but excitable crowd at Multan saw the Men in Green score 342-6, courtesy of a 131-ball 151 from captain Babar Azam

His match-winning performance was followed by an iridescent innings from Iftikhar Ahmed, who returned undefeated to the pavilion after blitzing his way through to 109* off just 71 balls. 

The partnership of 214 between Babar and Iftikhar was the highest partnership for 4th wicket or below for Pakistan in ODIs. 

Speaking about his communication with Iftikhar, Babar said “He (Ifthikar) can struggle a bit before he gets set. I asked him to play his natural game.”

That advice worked wonders for Iftikhar as Pakistan went from 213-4 at the end of 40 overs, to scoring 342-6 by the end of the 50th. Pakistan’s premier batter acknowledged Ahmed’s contribution in the post-match presentation.

“After two-three fours, he was comfortable. He smacked it after 40 overs,” the Pakistan skipper said.

Also read: Brutal Iftikhar Ahmed slowly turning into a consistent match-winner for Pakistan

Iftikhar ‘just smacking it’ after 40 overs was not an exaggerated statement at all. He scored 68 runs in 34 balls in the last 10, propelling the Pakistani total into a realm of impossibility for Nepal. 

Rohit Paudel’s side folded like a scared poker player in front of a snazzy Pakistani bowling attack, with eight of their eleven batters not reaching double figures. They could not even bat half of their allotted quota of 50 overs, getting bowled out for just 104 as their net run rate slipped to -4.760. 

Pakistan will now travel to Sri Lanka, where they’ll have to deal with a much stronger opponent along with the usual fanfare and razzmatazz of an India - Pakistan clash. Victory against India will seal Pakistan’s spot in the Super 4s.

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