Asia Cup 2018: Pakistan routs Hong Kong by eight wickets

Pakistan warmed up to Wednesday's big battle by expectedly making short work of qualifier Hong Kong in a Group A tie of the Asia Cup.

Pakistan strolled home with eight wickets and a whopping 26.2 overs to spare.   -  AFP

Pakistan warmed up to Wednesday's big battle by expectedly making short work of qualifier Hong Kong in a Group A tie of the Asia Cup.

On a day that saw only the toss and the first over going in favour of Hong Kong upon its return to the continental extravaganza after a decade, all of Pakistan bowlers, especially leggie Shadab Khan and pacer Usman Khan, improved its average to fold up Hong Kong for a meagre 116. Having started the chase even before the scheduled dinner break, Pakistan strolled home with eight wickets and a whopping 26.2 overs to spare.

Nizakat Khan gave Hong Kong the perfect start with a couple of stylish flicks off Mohammad Amir's first over that fetched the unfancied team 11 runs. Usman and Amir, then, tightened the screws, conceding just 17 in the next seven overs, which also saw Nizakat being run out, thanks to Shadab's direct hit from point to the striker's end.

AS IT HAPPENED: Hong Kong vs Pakistan

By the time Shadab was introduced into the attack, captain Anshuman Rath and Chris Carter had joined Nizakat in the change room. But, the leggie ensured an early finish to the proceedings with a double-wicket maiden to reduce Pakistan to 44 for five in 16 overs. Shadab's first ball saw Babar Hayat being fooled in the flight for Sarfraz Ahmed to whip the bails. Two balls later, Ehsan Khan missed a straight-one to be ruled out leg-before.

Kinchit Shah and Aizaz Khan, then, ensured Hong Kong crossed the three-figure mark with a 53-run partnership. But, Usman not only broke the partnership with one that came in after pitching in the 31st over, but ensured that the innings didn't drag on longer with two more wickets in the same over.

The Pakistan openers – in-form Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq – had little difficulty in negotiating half an hour before the break. Even though Fakhar fell minutes after the resumption to give Ehsan and Hong Kong a reason to cheer, Imam and Babar looked in little trouble during the 52-run association. Ehsan added another memorable moment with Babar nicking him to Carter in a virtual replay of Fakhar's dismissal in the 21st over. Imam then raised the first fifty of the match before Pakistan overhauled the target before the halfway mark.