Mohammad Rizwan (78, 57b, 6x4, 1x6), Fakhar Zaman (53, 41b, 3x4, 2x6) struck half-centuries and Khushdil Shah played a blazing cameo as Pakistan cruised into the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup, beating Hong Kong by 155 runs in Sharjah on Friday. The victory means Pakistan will face India on Sunday.
Defending 193 on a slow and low Sharjah wicket, Naseem Shah (two for seven), Mohammad Nawaz (three for five) and Shadab Khan (four for eight) razed Hong Kong, bowling it out for 38 in 10.4 overs on a muggy night.
Earlier, Hong Kong conceded 77 in the last five overs, 29 of which came off Aizaz Khan in the 20th. Khushdil 35(15b, 5x6) struck four sixes off Aizaz to cap off a flourishing finish from Pakistan that belied a sedate start.
After being put in to bat, Babar Azam and Rizwan managed seven runs in the first two overs. Off-spinner Ehsan Khan (two for 28), introduced in the third over, had Babar caught and bowled. Zaman, in at No. 3, might have been run out in the next over had the throw from the extra-cover fielder hit the stumps at the non-striker’s end.
Rizwan broke the shackles in the next over with two boundaries off Ayush Shukla. Pakistan reached 40 for one after the first six overs with Rizwan once again going at under run-a-ball. He struggled with the humidity and heat, asking the 12th man to rush onto the field with a towel and bottle of water a few times.
But Rizwan showed signs of aggression after the halfway stage, slamming Mohammad Ghazanfar for a straight six. He reached his 50 off 42 balls in the 14th over. Meanwhile, Zaman kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos before connecting a sweep for six in the 15th over. He then hit Yasim Murtaza for a four and a 101-metre six to reach 50 off 38 balls before falling to Ehsan in the next over, ending a 116-run second-wicket partnership with Rizwan. However, as it turned out, Pakistan already had enough on the board by then.