Dubai, Aug 31: India secured their Super 4 spot as they clinched a 40-run win over Hong Kong in their Asia Cup Group A match at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
After their thrilling five-wicket win over Pakistan in their tournament-opener, India followed it up with a comfortable win over Hong Kong to finish on top of Group A and secure their spot in the Super 4. The other team to secure a super 4 berth is Afghanistan, having clinched back-to-back wins in Group B.
Hong Kong will now play Pakistan on Friday (Sept 2) and the winner of that game will take on India on Sunday.
After being asked to bat first, India got off to a slow start as the first two overs yielded only six runs. But skipper Rohit Sharma played a quickfire 21 off 13 to get the match going. Rohit Sharma became the first player to reach 3500 runs in T20Is. Rohit along with opener KL Rahul added 38 off 31 for the opening over, before Ayush Shukla handed Hong Kong the big wicket of the Indian skipper.
But Rahul and Kohli kept India on course. The pair kept the board ticking but found it tough to cross the boundary ropes. Rahul and Kohli added 56 off 49 for the second-wicket. With the duo in the middle, it looked like India would reach around 140. But after Rahul's 39-ball 36 came to an end in the 13th over, India shifted gears.
With Suryakumar Yadav getting off the mark with back-to-back boundaries, the match turned on its head. Kohli, who had been quiet so far, also shifted gears as the pair hammered the bowlers. The last five overs saw the pair score at a runrate of 14 as the duo guided India to a massive total.
Kohli, who has been undergoing a prolonged lean patch, became the first player in Asia Cup 2022 to score a half-century. While Kohli brought up his 31st T20I fifty off forty deliveries, the inform Suryakumar, brought up his half-century off just 22 deliveries.
The final over saw Sky hammer Haroon Arshad for four sixes, including three back-to-back maximums. The last over went for 26 runs as India reached 192/2. Kohli and Yadav put up a blistering unbeaten partnership of 98 off 42 to guide India to a strong total against minnows Hong Kong.
With a huge ask on the board, Arshdeep handed India a strong start, removing opener Yasim Murtaza for 9 off 9. But despite the wicket, the powerplay belonged to Hong Kong as they added 51 runs in the first six overs, with Babar Hayat scoring the bulk of the runs. But with the final ball of the powerplay being a free hit, it didn't work in Hong Kong's favour as skipper Khan (10) lost his wicket after a direct throw from Jadeja. That brought an end to the solid 25-ball 39 second-wicket partnership.
Following the strong powerplay, Hong Kong's runrate dipped as they struggled to found the boundary ropes. After Jadeja removed Hayat (41 off 35) in the 12th over, Hong Kong lost their way as they runrate continued to creep up. With three overs to go and the required runrate at 21, skipper Rohit handed the ball to Kohli. Playing as a sixth bowler, Kohli bowled an tidy over, giving away just six runs.
Hong Kong did play some fantastic shots, but the task was too much as India pulled off a regulation win to finish on top of the group.
Here are the captain's comments, full list of awards from the post-match presentation ceremony of the India vs Hong Kong Group A match:
Best Catch of the Match: Aizaz Khan (Took Rohit Sharma's catch)
Player of the Match: Suryakumar Yadav
Nizakat Khan (HKG), Losing Captain: I think the way we started with the ball, till the 13th over we were very good and the fielding was good. We slipped after that, especially in the death overs. but the way Suryakumar batted was really good. Great opportunity for the boys, we were away for a long time and they played through injuries. We will sit and look at our death bowling and look at what we did wrong and capitalise on that in our next game.
Rohit Sharma (IND), Winning Captain: Yeah (ticked all boxes) I think so. We batted pretty well to start with and got a good score in the end. We could have done little better with the ball. (Suryakumar Yadav) The kind of innings he played today, words will fall short. Every now and then he comes up with such shots. The kind of confidence he has and some of the shots he had are not written in the books, it was very pleasing to watch him. The shot selection was also crucial. (Flexible batting order) It is something we want to keep in our minds. We've informed the group and most of the guys are ready to take the opportunity and do what the team needs from them. We can talk about flexibility, but you have to go out there and do it too. When we see the right matchups, we're going to try and use that.
Suryakumar Yadav (Player of the Match): Some of those shots are predetermined. This format is about how you prepare, so most of them are predetermined. (Pitch) Was a little slow, watching from outside, but my plan was really clear. My role was to go and take the tempo up and I really loved it. (Batting order) I think you've got to be flexible, you should be able to bat anywhere. I really enjoy it.
Babar Hayat (41 off 35): I think it was much needed (his batting). We were chasing around 200 and we needed a good powerplay. I was playing my shots and it was coming off well. The way we've played in Oman and here also we did well. Apart from our bowling our fielding and batting was also well. A lot of positives to take from this game and we'll take it into the next game. Couple of guys bowled well too. The Indian bowlers are very experienced, and they bowled pretty well.