In the opening match of the 16th edition of the Asia Cup, Pakistan will face Nepal in Karachi on August 30. The Nepal cricket team has already reached Pakistan to participate in the tournament for the first time. The Pakistan vs Nepal ODI match will start at 3:30 pm Bangladesh time at Multan Cricket Stadium.
Preview of Pakistan vs Nepal ODI match
The number 1 team in the Men's ODI Team Rankings will play the Number 15 team. Pakistan will step onto the field as the favourite, and they are getting home-ground advantage, too. Furthermore, their recent triumphant 3-0 sweep in the ODI series against Afghanistan undoubtedly contributed to a significant boost in their confidence.
On the other hand, Nepal secured their spot in the Asia Cup by emerging victorious in the 2023 ACC Men's Premier Cup held in May. Their impeccable record of remaining unbeaten throughout the tournament showcases their expertise. Nevertheless, facing Pakistan presents an entirely distinct and more challenging scenario. Playing with one of the most experienced teams, Nepal might get to see a one-sided game.
It's quite fascinating that Pakistan and Nepal have never played against each other in any official match in international cricket. However, they did have a practice match in the UAE back in 2015. During that match, Pakistan scored a solid 306 runs for the loss of 6 wickets, thanks to an impressive performance by Azhar Ali, who scored 73 runs off 73 balls. In return, Nepal had a slow start and managed to score 205 runs in their 50 overs while losing 5 wickets along the way.
Pakistan Probable XI
Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Salman Ali Agha, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf.
Nepal Probable XI
Aarif Sheikh, Kushal Bhurtel, Aasif Sheikh, Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Bhim Sharki, Sompal Kami, Sandeep Lamichhane, Lalit Rajbanshi, Gulshan Jha, Pratis GC.
Players to Watch in the PAK vs NEP 1st ODI in the 2023 Asia Cup
Imam Ul Haq
Pakistani batter Imam Ul Haq has shown remarkable consistency in the recent ODI series against Afghanistan, maintaining an average of nearly 70 with the bat. Considering his impressive performance, he will surely have an impact on the first match against Nepal. Overall, he played 62 matches and scored 2884 runs in total with 9 centuries and 18 fifties.
Pakistani bowler Naseem Shah's performance in the recent ODI series against Afghanistan has been outstanding, both in terms of his exceptional bowling and his economical figures. With his strong performance, he could be a top bowler against Nepal. Debuted in 2022, Naseem played 10 ODI matches so far and took 25 wickets in total.
Read more: Predictions: Who will win Asia Cup 2023?
Lamichhan's bowling record for Nepal is outstanding. He played 49 ODIs and chased 111 wickets. He surpassed Rashid Khan to reach 100 ODI wickets in just 42 matches and set a world record. In T20, too, he has a chance to take the record by himself. He now has 85 wickets in 44 matches.
This year's Asia Cup, organized by the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), will feature a hybrid model. This also includes matches in co-hosting country Sri Lanka. Although Pakistan is the main host, it can be said that the main tournament will be in Sri Lanka. 9 matches, including the final, are in the island nation. The remaining 4 matches of the tournament are in Pakistan. The Pakistan vs Nepal match will mark the inauguration of Asia Cup 2023.