Going by what unfurled the previous time the two teams met, India can expect Hong Kong to come out fighting in their Asia Cup Group ‘A’ clash in Dubai on Wednesday.
It was in the 2018 Asia Cup, played in the ODI format, where India survived a scare from the minnow. Chasing 286, Hong Kong openers Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath put on an excellent 174-run stand to set the cat among the pigeons. It was only inexperience that pulled Hong Kong down, allowing India to escape with a 26-run victory.
India, having edged out Pakistan on Sunday, will look to finish its group stage campaign with a big win.
Wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik, who was picked ahead of Rishabh Pant on Sunday, could get another go. Karthik could not show his finishing power, having faced just a single ball in the chase.
India could use this fixture as a chance to experiment with its playing eleven. The likes of batter Deepak Hooda and spinner R. Ashwin, both of whom sat out in the previous match, could get a look in.
The Hong Kong side, meanwhile, is filled with players of Pakistani and Indian origin. For these unheralded cricketers, the chance to go up against quality opposition could be a once-in-a-lifetime dream. The team entered the main draw of the Asia Cup by defeating Kuwait, Singapore and U.A.E. in the qualifying tournament.
“Winning and losing is a part of the game, as long as we play our best cricket,” Hong Kong skipper Nizakat Khan stated here on Tuesday. “Playing against India and Pakistan is a massive opportunity for everyone. We need to learn from them. We need to capitalise on these two games, and show that we are good enough to play against big teams.”
In Trent Johnston, Hong Kong has a coach who knows what it takes to defy expectations. Johnston was part of the Ireland team which famously upset England in the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup at Bengaluru. “That was a long time ago (win over England). You don’t often get the opportunity to play India and Pakistan in the space of three days.
It’s a great achievement for us to qualify for this tournament. No one expects us to beat India, but we have 20 players in our camp who believe they can. We have to play some good cricket, and with a bit of luck, we can do well,” Johnston said.
|India: Rohit Sharma (Captain), K.L. Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan|
|Hong Kong: Nizakat Khan (Captain), Kinchit Shah, Zeeshan Ali, Haroon Arshad, Babar Hayat, Aftab Hussain, Ateeq Iqbal, Aizaz Khan, Ehsan Khan, Scott McKechnie, Ghazanfar Mohammad, Yasim Murtaza, Dhananjay Rao, Wajid Shah, Ayush Shukla, Ahan Trivedi, Mohammad Waheed.|