India 192 for 2 (Suryakumar 68*, Kohli 59*, Ghazanfar 1-19) beat Hong Kong 152 for 5 (Hayat 41, Kinchit 30, Bhuvneshwar 1-15, Jadeja -15) by 40 runs
A blazing half-century from Suryakumar Yadav, and a more sedate one from Virat Kohli, helped India cruise into the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup as they beat Hong Kong by 40 runs in Dubai. The victory ensured India would finish as the top team in Group A.
After being put in, India struggled to force the pace on the ball on a sluggish surface. But as the game progressed, the pitch seemed to ease out. Suryakumar cashed in on that, smashing six fours and as many sixes to post 68 not out in just 26 balls. Kohli, too, found his timing after a slow start and finished unbeaten on 59 off 44. His knock included one four and three sixes. The pair added an unbroken 98 in just 42 balls, propelling India to 192 for 2.
From there on, it was always going to be an uphill task for Hong Kong. Despite scoring 51 for 2 in the powerplay, they were behind the asking rate, and once the field spread out, their scoring rate dipped further. In the end, they could manage only 152 for 5.
However, it was a far from perfect game for India. Apart from a slow start, Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh looked off colour. Avesh gave away 53 from his four overs, and Arshdeep went for 44 from his quota. Both picked up a wicket each, though.
India' slow start
Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul started slowly; India managed just six runs in the first two overs. Rohit broke the shackles by jumping out of his crease to seamer Haroon Arshad and launching him for a straight six. Rahul joined him later in the over when he dispatched a free hit over deep midwicket. Off the last ball, Rohit hit a four to make it 22 from the over.
Ayush Shukla broke the stand in the fifth over when Rohit mistimed an offcutter to mid-on. He scored 21 off 13 balls but Rahul was struggling for timing at the other end. Kohli too found it difficult to get going. At one stage, Rahul was on 21 off 25, Kohli on 12 off 14, and India hadn't managed a boundary for 22 balls. Rahul ended that drought with a six off Aizaz Khan but despite that India only got to 70 for 1 at the ten-over mark.
Suryakumar lights up the night
Kohli showed signs of aggression after the halfway stage, hitting Mohammad Ghazanfar for a four and a six in successive overs from the legspinner. Ghazanfar, though, ended Rahul's struggle by having him caught behind for 36 off 39 balls.
That brought Suryakumar to the middle, and he swept the first two balls he faced, from Yasim Murtaza, for fours. That was just the teaser, and soon he showed his full range. In the 16th over, he hit Aizaz over short third for four before scooping him for a six, off consecutive balls. A couple of overs later, he flicked Shukla over deep square leg to move to 41 off just 17 balls.
Kohli, meanwhile, brought up his fifty off 40 balls. Three balls after reaching the landmark, he slog-swept Ehsan Khan for a 91-metre six but it paled in comparison to Suryakumar's dazzling strokeplay.
In the last over of the innings, Suryakumar hit Haroon's first three deliveries for sixes - the second one took him to his fifty off just 22 balls and was arguably the shot of the day. He had initially shaped up for a scoop but seeing Haroon bowl it full and wide, he changed his shot and lofted it over deep cover. The fourth ball was a dot, and Suryakumar pulled the next one over short fine leg for another six. Haroon escaped with a couple off the final ball but India already had a daunting total.
Spinners put brakes on after Babar Hayat's brisk start
Arshdeep bounced out Yasim in the second over but Babar Hayat's power-hitting took Hong Kong past 50 in the sixth over. The tall right-hander smashed Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Avesh over their heads for a six off each. In the sixth over, he took on Arshdeep, hitting him for two fours.
India found some relief when Nizakat Khan was run out on the last ball of the powerplay. It was a free hit that Nizakat steered towards backward point before taking a couple of steps down the pitch. But Ravindra Jadeja nailed a direct hit before he could get back in.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Jadeja then conceded only 14 in the next four overs. That left Hong Kong with a monumental task of getting 128 from the last ten.
The chase peters out
At the end of the powerplay, Babar was on 29 off 17 but could manage only 12 off the next 18 balls he faced. Jadeja sent him back when he miscued a cut to backward point. Kinchit Shah and Aizaz offered some resistance by adding 31 off 22 balls for the fourth wicket but it was too little to trouble India. In the final two overs, Zeeshan Ali and Scott McKechnie hit a flurry of boundaries but that was too little too late to have an impact on the final result.