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4th Match, Group A (N), Dubai (DICS), August 31, 2022, Men's T20 Asia Cup
(20 ov, T:193) 152/5

India won by 40 runs

Player Of The Match
68* (26)

Can Hong Kong overcome monumental odds to give India another scare?

Rohit Sharma's team will be looking to top Group A with another victory in Dubai

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore

Big picture

The build-up to India versus Hong Kong could not be more different to India versus Pakistan. The buzz around the training grounds, press conferences and the match - in terms of ticket sales and anticipation - is extremely low-key. It's almost as though everyone's just waiting for next Sunday, when India and Pakistan are likely to face off in the second of three possible meetings at this Asia Cup.
But India will remember all too well just how close Hong Kong came to pulling off an incredible upset the last time these sides met. Chances to play India are rare and it's an opportunity Hong Kong are keen to embrace, even if it means a few players sacrificing time with their newborns at home. How a bunch of semi-professional players handle their nerves could determine how far they go in the contest.
Hong Kong's cricket structure is possibly smaller than what you would find even in a tier-2 city in India. They have a pool of 20 players to choose from at the best of times. In comparison, India's senior squad has a pool of 40 that plays simultaneously in different countries. And then there are 20 others who are part of the 'A' tour programmes, all training to be match ready. The gulf Hong Kong have to bridge is monumental.
India had optional nets on the eve of the game, mindful of the heat and giving their senior players a break. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar took the day off as the rest of the squad trained in the afternoon heat.
Hong Kong have preferred to train at night. They are coming off a steady diet of games - at least 30 - in the past three months alone in Namibia, Uganda Zimbabwe, Jersey and Oman. But everything pales in comparison to the opportunity ahead of them on Wednesday.
They are excited, and nervous too, but Hong Kong's coach Trent Johnston knows a thing or two about orchestrating upsets - Pakistan in Jamaica (2007), England in Bengaluru (2011) among his famous ones.

Form guide

India WWWLW (last five completed matches; most recent first)
Hong Kong WWWLW

In the spotlight

All eyes were on Rishabh Pant at training on Tuesday evening, and he was smashing balls hard and far. Yorker-length deliveries disappeared into the arc between long-on and deep midwicket, short balls were swatted, and full deliveries driven handsomely. After being benched against Pakistan, Pant looked in imperious form.
Hong Kong captain Nizakat Khan came so close to scoring a century against India four years ago. But he's been in good form in the lead-up to his game, hitting a century against Jersey in a third-round clash of the ICC Challenger League B just three weeks ago. More recently in the Asia Cup qualifiers in Oman, he anchored a chase against Kuwait with a half-century.

Team news

India have spoken about their willingness to experiment. Don't be surprised if they make some changes.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Rishabh Pant (wk), 5 Deepak Hooda, 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Dinesh Karthik, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Ravi Bishnoi, 11 Arshdeep Singh
Hong Kong don't have the luxury of picking and choosing, and will stick to their first XI that played the qualifiers in Oman.
Hong Kong (probable): 1 Nizakat Khan (capt), 2 Babar Hayat, 3 Yasim Murtaza, 4 Kinchit Shah, 5 Scott McKechnie (wk), 6 Haroon Arshad, 7 Aizaz Khan, 8 Zeeshan Ali, 9 Ehsan Khan, 10 Ayush Shukla, 11 Mohammad Ghazanfar

Pitch and conditions

A fresh, hard surface will be used for Wednesday's game and that should mean bounce for the bowlers. The biggest factor, though, has been the absence of dew in Dubai, which has reduced the difficulty of bowling second. And then there's the extreme heat, which caused delays and brought the over-rate penalty into play in both innings of the India-Pakistan game.

Stats and trivia

  • KL Rahul has an impressive T20 record in Dubai - 731 runs in 16 innings at a strike rate of 147.67, including one century and six half-centuries.
  • Offspinner Ehsan Khan was Hong Kong's leading wicket-taker in the Asia Cup qualifiers, picking up nine wickets in three games.
  • In Hong Kong's previous game against India in 2018, Ehsan dismissed both Rohit and MS Dhoni.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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