Asia Cup 2018: India qualify for Super Four with a win over Hong Kong
Defending Champions India began the Asia Cup 2018 with a 26-run win over Hong Kong at Dubai International Stadium, Dubai on Tuesday. A century from Shikhar Dhawan, fifty for the returning Ambati Rayudu and great bowling effort by Hong Kong restricted India to 285/7. In response, despite Nizakat Khan and Anushman Rath's brilliant opening partnership, Hong Kong fell short of the target and were dumped out of the tournament.
Hong Kong captain Rath won the toss and decided to field first. Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan got off to an aggressive start, adding 45 runs for the opening wicket. Rohit tried to go for a big stroke but ended up being dismissed by Ehsan Khan for 23. Dhawan looked in aggressive touch and India were at 56/1 at the end of 10 overs.
Dhawan and Rayudu played with positive intent, putting pressure on Hong Kong bowlers. Dhawan reached his half-century off 57 balls while Rayudu reached his off 63 balls. The pair 116 runs for the second wicket before Ehsan Nawaz took the wicket of Rayudu for 60.
The southpaw reached his 14th century in ODIs off 105 balls and continued to play big strokes. India stitched another useful partnership as Dhawan and Dinesh Karthik added 79 runs for the third wicket. Dhawan was dismissed for 127 off 120 balls.
After the fall of Dhawan’s wicket, Hong Kong bowlers made a brilliant comeback by not giving away too many runs and also picked wickets at regular intervals. Kedar Jadhav remained not out on 28 while Dhoni was dismissed for a duck and Karthik scored 33 as India posted 285 for 7 in 50 overs. For Hong Kong, Kinchit Shah was the pick of bowlers with 3 for 39 in 9 overs.
Chasing the target of 286 runs to win, Hong Kong openers Anushman Rath and Nizakat Khan got the team off to a flyer, scoring 56 runs in the first 10 overs. Both of them continued to put pressure on Indian bowlers. Nizakat Khan reached his half-century off 45 balls while Hong Kong captain completed his off 75 balls.
Kuldeep Yadav got the breakthrough dismissing captain Rath for 73. Both Hong Kong openers added 174 runs. Khaleel Ahmed then got his first wicket in international cricket dismissing Nizakat Khan for 92.
The Indian spinners kept picking wickets at crucial intervals thereafter. Kinchit Shah scored 17 off 15 balls while Ehsan Khan made 22. For India, Khaleel Ahmed and Yuzvendra Chahal picked 3 wickets each, Kuldeep Yadav took 2 wickets as Hong Kong ended the innings on 259 for 8.
India will face Pakistan in the last Group A match on Wednesday at Dubai.