Arshdeep Singh of India celebrates after taking the wicket of Yasim Murtaza of Hong Kong during the Group 'A' match in DP World Asia Cup 2022 at the Dubai International Stadium. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

India cruise to 40-run win over Hong Kong

India cruised to a 40-run victory over Hong Kong in the Group A clash at the Dubai International Stadium and booked their place in the Super 4 of the DP World Asia Cup.

Chasing a mammoth target of 193, the minnows could not get the extra gear that was required to take their innings a notch higher. They could not capitalise on the wayward pace attack that certainly was not at their best on the day. Avesh Khan had an off day, bowling consistently at the good length spot and getting hit for fours and sixes. The pacers four overs cost 53 runs, that included four sixes and five fours, while Arshdeep Singh gave away 44 in his four overs. Ask Virat Kohli and KL Rahul, they will tell you how difficult it was to score runs, but the Indian bowlers were generous in their offerings.

Babar Hayat top-scored for Hong Kong with 41, while Kinchit Shah made 31. Zeeshan Ali remained unbeaten on 27 as Hong Kong finished at 152 for five.

Hong Kong gave a good account of themselves at the start of the match when the captain made a bold decision to bowl first after winning the toss. The Hong Kong bowlers vindicated their captain’s faith by keeping India under check, especially opener Rahul, who had too many dot balls.

But Rahul’s wicket changed the complexion of the game when Suryakumar Yadav and Kohli smashed the Hong Kong bowling to all corners of the park to add 98-run partnership in seven overs and getting their half-centuries in the process.

Match as good as over for Hong Kong

The match is as good as over for Hong Kong, though they are just eight runs behind India at this point. At 106 for four, Hong Kong batting has failed to keep the early momentum and the loss of skipper Nizakat and Babar Hayat have left them searching for a hitter, who could replicate Suryakumar’s heroics. Not likely to happen.

Kinchit, while keeping Hong Kong in the chase, has got some valuable runs to propel his personal score.

10-over update: Spinners keep Hong Kong in check

The untimely wicket of Hong Kong skipper has quietened things for Hong Kong with just 14 runs coming of the four overs after the exit of Nizakat. With the field now spreading, it is going to be increasingly difficult for Hong Kong, who’s required run rate is already touching 13.

Spinners Chahal and Jadeja are not going to give any easy deliveries and now Hong Kong should try to rotate the strike and run hard by converting ones and twos and go on the offensive once the pacers return for the final seven overs.

Suryakumar and Kohli showed that it’s easy to accelerate against the pacers, so Babar Hayat should be the central figure and the rest should play around him for the next five overs. After 10 overs, Hong Kong are 65 for two.

Power Play update: Jadeja’s bullet throw breaks Hong Kong’s back

Hong Kong got off to the perfect start to their chase of a stiff target against a wayward and indisciplined Indian bowling, but a smart run out by Ravindra Jadeja pulled the Indians back into the game at the end of powerplay.

At 51 for one, skipper Nizakat hit the free-hit off Arshdeep straight to point and looked for a non-existent run, but the few yards of indiscretion was enough for Jadeja’s bullet throw to catch Nizakat short of his crease. Again Hong Kong paid the price for their inexperience and conceded a wicket against the run of play when the Indian bowlers were making their task easier, giving some easy pickings.

Hayat, who came in at the fall of Yasim Murtaza, went for an ambitious pull only to sky the ball. He needs to play a long innings for Hong Kong to get closer to the target.

Suryakumar and Kohli hit half-centuries to give India winning total

Suyakumar Yadav’s hurricane knock propelled India to 192 for two at the end of the 20 overs against Hong Kong at the Dubai International Stadium. The right-hander lived up to the reputation of being the world No 2 batter in Twenty20 by clobbering the Hong Kong attack at will to reach 68 not out off 26 balls.

SKY managed to break the shackles of Hong Kong by his innovative batting and smart placements. Hong Kong are themselves to blame for making some wrong moves and showed their inexperience. Instead of tightening their grip, Hong Kong let the initiative slip through the fingers, conceding 78 runs in the final five overs.

The advent of pacers gave Virat Kohli, who laboured to his 31st half-century, and Suryakumar the freedom to play their shots and get their timing back. Kohli’s knock might have not been as fast as it used to be but coming under the circumstances, when the star batter is not in the best of his form, this gave him the much-needed runs under his belt and most importantly the numerous minutes at the crease, which should do a world of good to the star batter’s confidence. Kohli remained unbeaten on 59 off 44 balls and put on a 98-run partnership in seven overs.

Hong Kong spinner Yasim Murtaza bowled a teasing line and length with his slow left-armers to keep the Indian batters under check, while Ehsan Khan kept the runs under check from one end in the death overs to stop the run flow. But all the good work has gone to a naught in the final five overs.

Floodgates are likely to open in the final five overs

Hong Kong bowlers have been adopting a smart strategy, not giving any pace for Indian batters to force the pace. Left-arm spinner Murtaza was operating under 75-kmph, which means the Indian batters really need to go hard at him and in the process mistime the shots. Rahul’s misery ended when he tried to play a slog-sweep only to edge it to wicketkeeper. The advent of Suryakumar Yadav changed the complexion of the game and showed why is the No 2 Twenty20 batter in the world now. Instead of going over the top, SKY employed the sweep to good effect to break the shackles of Murtaza.

India reached the 100-run mark in the 14th over and are 114 for two in 15 overs. The Indians need to score 12 runs an over to go past the 175-run mark to put pressure on Hong Kong.

Still, Hong Kong bowlers are playing to their plan and the spinners have done the job of restricting the Men in Blue, but with pacers coming back, the floodgates are likely to open.

A circumspect Rahul is keeping the scoring under check

Indian batting is not getting the right impetus to propel its run rate and at the 10 over mark, the Men in Blue are 70/1 with a circumspect Rahul on 30 off 31 balls. It’s not the start India wanted, but still keeping the wickets in tact gives them the advantage in the last 10, which could even fetch around 110-120.

But the first half of the game belongs to the amateurs from Hong Kong, keeping the famed Indian batters under check for such a long period of time. For Rahul, but for the two sixes, one off a free-hit and another in the ninth over, his strike rate way below the desired target of under 100. Certainly, the opener needs to trust his skills and play freely to India a fighting total. Kohli is on 15 off 18 balls.

Update after powerplay overs

Cautious start for India at 44/1 in six overs

Hong Kong have managed to keep Indian batters quiet after winning the toss and electing to bowl first in the Group A match at the Dubai International Stadium. Though the decision to bowl first must have been a surprise decision for many, Hong Kong must have taken consolation from the fact that they chased well in the previous encounter in the 2018 edition and lost narrowly by 26 runs.

One of the main reasons for Hong Kong to taste some success is due to the bad form of opener KL Rahul, who is still not comfortable in the middle. In fact, because Rahul is not able to pierce the field, Rohit Sharma, tried to go over the infield, capitalising on the field restrictions, only managed to hit a low catch at md-on.

The wicket promises plenty of runs with a fair bit of grass covering and the ball is coming on to the bat nicely. Virat Kohli and Rahul need to stay at this wicket, which is a perfect batting pitch, and get some confidence. After 6 overs, India are 44 for one, a cautious start.

Virat Kohli warms up with his India team mates at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai, ahead of the Asia Cup 2022 Group A match against Hong Kong. Image Credit: Reuters

Chance for KL Rahul and Virat Kohli to get back into form

By A.K.S. Satish, Sports Editor

Dubai: Not every day that the minnows from the Associate nations have a chance to rub shoulders and compete with the big boys of cricket world. But Hong Kong, who rightfully gained their spot in the DP World Asia Cup after winning the qualifiers, aim to make the most of the opportunity and set the base for the future stars to emerge from the nation.

Hong Kong ran close to give India a scare in the previous encounter at the Dubai International Stadium and now they will take positives from that contest, which had the likes of Rohit Sharma, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and all the stalwarts of the time, to today’s Group A clash at the same battleground.

But while Hong Kong has developed with the minimal opportunities that came their way, this Indian team is different. They are ready to steamroller the opposition. Different teams and different personalities have been part of the Men in Blue in the last few months and the result is the same, winning the series hands down. Though one can say Twenty20 is anybody’s game, the Indians are on a roll.

Since July, India have suffered just two losses in Twenty20s, one against England and the other against the West Indies. The Men in Blue have been testing and trialing a few combinations in the past few months to get their act right before the start of the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in October.

Barring opener KL Rahul and Virat Kohli, who showed a semblance of his past form, are yet to get big runs. The Hong Kong game provides the opportunity for both to play a longer innings and start hitting the sweet spot in today’s clash, which will enable them to be ready for the Super 4 challenges ahead.