Big picture - a massive occasion for NepalNepal are making their Asia Cup debut. They are meeting Pakistan for the first time in any format. It's a massive occasion for them, a day of celebration no matter how things pan out on the field.
Form guidePakistan WWWLW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
In the spotlightAfter years of being overdependent on their top three, Pakistan are beginning to put together a promising ODI middle order, and a lot of the credit for this must go to Agha Salman, who has a 40-plus average and a 100-plus strike rate after his first 14 games. He has been in a rich vein of form over recent months - he followed an excellent home ODI series against New Zealand with aggressive Test knocks of 83 and 132* on the tour of Sri Lanka, and he comes into the Asia Cup on the back of a crucial unbeaten 38 to end an otherwise quiet series against Afghanistan on a positive note.
Team newsPakistan announced their playing XI on Tuesday. They picked three fast bowlers - Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf - and two spin-bowling allrounders - Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz - with Salman also capable of chipping in with his offspin. That meant there was no room for Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Wasim, who took a four-wicket haul for Pakistan A against Nepal during the Emerging Cup in July.
Pitch and conditionsMultan hosted all three ODIs during West Indies' tour of Pakistan last year. All three matches produced 250-plus first-innings scores, with Pakistan chasing down 306 in the first ODI. The top three wicket-takers in that series were Nawaz, Shadab and Akeal Hosein, and if conditions play similarly, spinners can expect to play a significant role again. The weather is expected to be hot and dry, with temperatures reaching the high 30s (Celsius).
Stats and trivia
- Nepal have only played three ODIs against Full-Member teams - one each against Ireland, West Indies and Zimbabwe, all during this year's World Cup qualifier
- Babar Azam has scored 18 hundreds in 101 ODI innings. Saeed Anwar, the only Pakistan batter above him on the centuries list, scored 20 in 244 innings
- Nepal (51) have played more ODIs than Pakistan (31) in the current World Cup cycle. Only Afghanistan (27), Canada (5) and Jersey (5) have played fewer ODIs than Pakistan
Karthik Krishnaswamy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo