PAKISTAN captain Babar Azam said his team will be brimming with confidence for Saturday’s (2) Asia Cup blockbuster against arch-rivals India after kicking off their campaign with a comprehensive victory against Nepal on Wednesday (30).
Babar led from the front with a masterly 151 and Iftikhar Ahmed produced an unbeaten 109 to power Pakistan to a commanding 342-6 at the Multan Cricket Stadium.
The tournament co-hosts returned to skittle out Asia Cup debutants Nepal for 104 in 23.4 overs for what was their third-biggest victory in a one-day international.
“This game was good preparation for the India game because it gave us confidence,” Babar, who was named Player of the Match for his 19th one-day hundred, said.
“India-Pakistan will always bring high intensity. We want to give 100 per cent in every match, hope to do that there as well.”
Babar is the top-ranked ODI batter and the stylish right-hander proved why with his excellent pacing of his knock.
Pakistan lost both their openers early but Babar combined with Mohammad Rizwan (44) to arrest the slide before Iftikhar joined the party.
Babar took 72 balls to bring up his 50 but soon stepped on the gas and raced to a 109-ball hundred. After that, he batted in T20 fashion, milking 51 off the next 22 balls he faced.
“When I went in, the ball wasn’t coming on properly, so I was trying to build an innings with Rizwan,” Babar explained.
“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 hitting two-three boundaries.”
They now fly to Pallekele to face India, who are playing their matches in Sri Lanka having refused to travel to Pakistan because of soured political relation between the neighbours.