Current champions India defeated Hong Kong by 40 runs on Wednesday at the Dubai International Stadium to become the first side from Group A to clinch a position in the Super Four of the Asia Cup in 2022.
Earlier, Suryakumar Yadav’s heroics in the final seven overs helped him reach 68 off just 26 balls and remain unbeaten, and they joined with Virat Kohli’s 31st T20I fifty, 59 not out off 44 balls, to help India achieve a challenging 192/2.
Young pacers Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh combined to leak 97 runs, reducing Hong Kong to 152/5 in their 20 overs, while spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja allowed just 48 runs altogether in the 192-run defence.
Bright points for Hong Kong’s batting were a 71-run partnership between Babar Hayat (41) and Kinchit Shah (30), as well as scoring 33 runs in the final two overs. However, they fell short of Suryakumar and Kohli’s efforts.
Arshdeep was struck for fours by Yasim Murtaza over the backward point and mid-on. However, the left-arm pacer emerged victorious after bouncing out Murtaza and grabbing the catch on the top-edge with his great leg. Setting the tone for Hong Kong, Hayat dropped sixes off Avesh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Then, using five balls off Avesh and Arshdeep, he displayed his leg-side play by smashing three fours. However, India concluded the power play on a high note when Jadeja’s pinpoint direct hit from the point fell just short of his crease.
Jadeja and Chahal put a stop to Hong Kong’s scoring rate after the power play, as just 14 runs were scored in the following four overs. To free himself from the chains, Hayat attempted to confront Jadeja but was ultimately cut off at the spot.
Chahal, Avesh, and Arshdeep were the targets of Shah’s sweep, inside-out manoeuvre, and forceful steering. But Hong Kong was simply unable to keep up as the required run rate increased. With a slower delivery, Avesh defeated Aizaz Khan, making things difficult for Hong Kong. Shah erred by hitting a juggling long-off off Bhuvneshwar in an attempt to go big.
Beginning the 19th over against Avesh, Zeeshan Ali lofted inside-out over cover for six runs. Following it up with an upper cut, flick, and clever steer, Scott McKechnie scored a six and two fours in a 21-run over. Zeeshan then struck two consecutive fours off Arshdeep in the penultimate over, but India had already virtually locked up their second straight victory in Asia Cup 2022 and a place in the Super four by that point.
(Inputs from IANS)