Pakistan reveal their playing XI for Asia Cup 2023 opener against Nepal; Iftikhar Ahmed, Naseem Shah return


Pakistan, on the eve of their 2023 Asia Cup opener against qualifier Nepal in Multan on Wednesday, revealed their playing XI. The Babar Azam-led side have gone batting heavy in their first match of the competition, making as many as three changes in the line-up compared to the team they featured in the third and final ODI of the match against Afghanistan last week in Colombo.

Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam (L) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of Afghanistan’s Hashmatullah Shahidi (not pictured) during the third and final one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Pakistan and Afghanistan(AFP)

Pakistan picked three frontline pacers and three spin-bowling all-rounders, implying that they aren’t shot of bowling options despite going batting heavy.

The host nation snubbed Saud Shakeel, who was added to the 17-member squad replacing Tayyab Tahir after featuring in the third ODI against Afghanistan. The middle-order hence comprises of Salman Ali Agha and Iftikhar Ahmed. Meanwhile, Usama Mir was also left out from the spin department as Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan were preferred.

The pace department comprised on Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who picked the most wickets (6) in the Afghanistan contest, and Haris Rauf, who had bagged a five-wicket haul in the series opener.

This will be the first official meeting between the two in international cricket with Nepal having qualified for the tournament after emerging atop in Group A of the 2023 ACC Men’s Premier Cup before beating Kuwait in the semis and UAE in the final. Meanwhile for Pakistan, they are excited to host the Asia Cup for the first time in 15 years, although only four matches will be played in the country. Sri Lanka had emerged as the second host as the Hybrid Model was adapted after India’s stance to not send their team to Pakistan amid political tension between the two nations.

After the match against Nepal, Pakistan will take on arch-rivals India on September 2 at the Pallekel International Stadium in Sri Lanka, which will be India’s first match in the tournament.



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