India finished its Asia Cup Group ‘A’ campaign with an easy 40-run win over Hong Kong at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday. With two wins in as many matches, India qualified for the Super Four.
India set Hong Kong a massive target of 193, which proved to be too high a mountain to climb for the minnows. Hong Kong managed to bat out the full 20 overs, but failed to mount a serious challenge.
With the game in the bag, the crowd got a buzz when part-timer Virat Kohli came on to bowl in the 17th over. Speedsters Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh had horror outings, conceding 53 and 44 runs respectively in their four overs.
After being put in to bat, India overcame an unusually slow start to post a good score. Suryakumar Yadav (68 n.o., 26b, 6x4, 6x6) turned on the jets when the run-rate needed a boost. The Mumbai batter was aggressive from start to finish, opening his account with a sweep four and ending the knock with four sixes off the last over.
A scoop six off fast bowler Aizaz Khan, in the 16th over, showcased his wide range of shots. Suryakumar went berserk in the last over, bowled by Haroon Arshad, smacking the pacer all over the park. Suryakumar’s pyrotechnics helped India rack up 54 runs in the last three overs, which effectively put the total beyond Hong Kong’s reach.
While Suryakumar typified the team management’s diktat of playing an attacking brand of cricket, K.L. Rahul (36, 39b, 2x6) and Virat Kohli (59 n.o., 44b, 1x4, 3x6) were cautious to a fault. Rahul looked terribly out of sorts, failing to get the ball off the square. The Karnataka opener ate up dot balls aplenty, and only made good connection twice.
Kohli fared a little better, but he was by no means electric. Most surprisingly, Rahul and Kohli showed no attacking intent, preferring instead to poke around for singles. India ambled along to 44 for one at the end of the Powerplay, and 70 for one when drinks was called after 10 overs.
The duo put on 56 runs off 49 balls for the second wicket. Rahul was dismissed when he edged a sweep off spinner Mohammad Ghazanfar, which was collected by wicketkeeper Scott McKechnie. Rohit Sharma (21, 13b, 2x4, 1x6) was deceived by fast bowler Ayush Shukla, who took the pace off the ball to catch the batter playing much too early.
India did not experiment too much with its playing eleven, making just the single change from the side which faced Pakistan. Rishabh Pant came in for Hardik Pandya. Pant kept wickets while Dinesh Karthik did fielding duties.
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