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Asia Cup 2018: Twitter reacts to India’s labored victory over Hong Kong

Shikhar Dhawan scored 127 against Hong Kong
Shikhar Dhawan

India began its campaign in the Asia Cup 2018 against Hong Kong in Dubai. They were expected to win easily against the minnows but the opposition put up a wonderful performance. India got over the line but it was a hard-earned victory.

As the Men in Blue are scheduled to face Pakistan just a day after this game, they decided to rest some of the key players. Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey and Hardik Pandya were rested. It gave an opportunity to the likes of Ambati Rayudu and Khaleel Ahmed.

To everyone’s surprise, Hong Kong won the toss and asked India to bat first. Indian openers identified that there wasn’t much venom in the pacers. So they went after them initially. Rohit Sharma was the aggressor as he struck some delightful boundaries. After 7 overs, the score raced off to 44 without loss.

As soon as the spinner Ehsan Khan came into the attack, Rohit offered him his wicket served on a platter. His departure for 23 put India at 45/1. From that point onwards, the test for Hong Kong bowlers began. Shikhar Dhawan and Ambati Rayudu settled in nicely and took full advantage of a mediocre attack.

Dhawan’s return to form

They mixed caution with aggression and made solid progress. Dhawan brought up his fifty in the 20th over and a few overs later, Rayudu also responded with the same landmark. The partnership for the 2nd wicket added 116 runs before Rayudu fell to Ehsan Nawaz for 60 as the score reached 161/2 in the 30th over.

Dhawan took the center stage and went on the offensive. He notched up his 14th ODI century and then upped the ante. India was perfectly placed at 237/2 after 40 overs and was well on course to sail past 300. But Dhawan got out for 127 off 122 balls in the 41st over to Kinchit Shah. His dismissal opened the floodgates and India lost wickets in the bid to score big.

MS Dhoni fell without opening his account. Dinesh Karthik got to 33 but found himself walking out of the park when looking for a big hit. Kedar Jadhav stood firm at one end and scored 28 while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur got out from the other end. India was restricted to 285/7 at the end of 50 overs, falling well short of what they could have achieved.

Hong Kong’s spirited opening stand

Indian bowlers were expected to run through the opposition batting. Watching Pakistan knock them over in the last game didn’t extract too many expectations. But Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath were in the mood to showcase their skills with the bat. Bhuvneshwar looked rusty and the batsmen took full advantage of it.

After 10 overs, the score read 56/0 and the pair looked in no trouble. Shardul Thakur bowled a terrible spell and added to India’s worries. Indian wrist spinners then came into the attack but once again, the batsmen were up to the task. They seemed unflustered and took the score to 110/0 after 20 overs.

Nizakat had crossed the fifty-run mark being the aggressor. The Indian spinners applied the brakes for a while but Shardul’s one over that went for 13, spoiled it again. Anshuman too got his half-century and Hong Kong was looking well set to inflict a massive upset. After 34 overs, they reached 174 without loss and Rohit Sharma was looking for an inspiration from somewhere.

India fought back

Finally, there were smiles on Indian faces when Kuldeep Yadav ended the drought for wickets. He dismissed Anshuman for 73 in the 35th over which proved to be the opening that India needed. The debutant pacer Khaleel Ahmed removed the other set batsman Nizakat for 92 in the next over that brought India back in the game.

The inexperienced middle-order of Hong Kong was exposed and the rising required rate put them under pressure. Khaleel bagged another in the form of Christopher Carter and Chahal accounted for Babar Hayat’s wicket. The batsmen were coming in, swinging their bats and departing. Chahal bagged his second and third by sending back Kinchit and Aizaz Khan respectively.

Kuldeep came back to pick up another to finish with 2 wickets. Khaleel’s dream debut ended with figures of 48/3 as Hong Kong was restricted to 259/8 in 50 overs. India survived a major scare and in doing so, qualified for the Super 4 stage. Hong Kong, on the other hand, after putting up an impressive show, find themselves out of the tournament.

Match Summary

Hong Kong won the toss and opted to bowl first

India: 285/7 in 50 overs

Shikhar Dhawan 127 (120), Ambati Rayudu 60 (70)

Kinchit Shah 39/3 (9), Ehsan Khan 65/2 (10)

Hong Kong: 259/8 in 50 overs

Nizakat Khan 92 (115), Anshuman Rath 73 (97)

Yuzvendra Chahal 46/3 (10), Khaleel Ahmed 48/3 (10)

India won by 26 runs

Player of the Match: Shikhar Dhawan

 

Here’s how Twitter reacted to India’s win over Hong Kong

 

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