India survives Hong Kong scare to book Super-Four place

Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan put together 174 runs for the first wicket to give Hong Kong a great chance of chasing down 286.

A dejected Anshuman Rath, the Hong Kong captain, walks back to the pavilion after a spirited 73.   -  AFP

India may have won the match but rank outsider Hong Kong won hearts at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday night.

Chasing a stiff target of 286, Hong Kong openers Nizakat Khan and captain Anshuman Rath gave Rohit Sharma's men a real scare with an opening partnership of 174, the highest-ever for the Associate nation in ODIs, eclipsing the stand of 170 the pair had put on for the fourth wicket versus Scotland in 2016.

As it happened

It was incredible to see the duo bat sensibly and tackle India's bowling line-up, sans Jasprit Bumrah, who was rested after his heavy workload in England. That the partnership came 48 hours after Hong Kong was bundled out for 116 versus Pakistan made it even more special. The patient India always knew it was a solitary wicket away before snatching the control of the game.

However, Rath and Nizakat frustrated it for more than two-third of the innings, even bringing their team within touching distance of an upset win. Once Rath, the left-hander, played a tired drive off Kuldeep Yadav straight to Rohit Sharma at cover, the floodgates opened and Hong Kong eventually fell short by 27 runs. Left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed was impressive on debut, especially in the latter half of the chase.

Earlier in the afternoon, Shikhar Dhawan dazzled, Ambati Rayudu made use of a promotion to No. 3 slot, but the middle-order devils came back to haunt India as it registered 285 for seven. Dhawan's 14th ODI hundred and his twin stands of 115 with Ambati Rayudu for the second wicket and 78 with Dinesh Karthik for the third had placed India in a perfect position to wage a late charge against Hong Kong a day before the mouthwatering clash against Pakistan on Wednesday. However, India managed to add just 48 runs for the loss of four wickets to record a sub-300 total.

Rath won the toss for the second successive occasion. After being bundled by Pakistan bowlers on Sunday, Rath chose to put India in to bat. His decision didn't backfire right away as Rohit Sharma failed to clear the inner ring in the eighth over. However, then on, for the next 22-odd overs, it was one-way traffic in favour of Dhawan and Rayudu. While Dhawan scored off the Hong Kong bowlers at will, Rayudu played the shot of the day, a lofted sweep off left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed that sailed over the mid-wicket fence.

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