Pakistan was up against the minnows Hong Kong in the 2nd match of Asia Cup 2018. It was expected to be a one-sided encounter and indeed Pakistan proved to be too good. At no point did Hong Kong match the level of the opposition and bundled out by 8 wickets.
The Hong Kong skipper Anshuman Rath won the toss and elected to bat. Mohammad Amir took the new ball and all eyes were on him. One would expect him to trouble the batsmen with his swing and pace. The opener Nizakat Khan collected 11 runs off the first over that included 2 boundaries. It felt as if Hong Kong was up to the task.
The start was steady and the openers added 17 runs from 4 overs. But a lackluster effort in running between the wickets led to the first wicket. Shadab Khan’s brilliant direct hit found Nizakat not grounding his bat and he had to walk back for 13. The brakes were applied on the scoring and the pressure mounted.
Hong Kong in stutters
Faheem Ashraf came into the attack and got the opposition captain out caught behind for 19 in the 9th over. From that point onwards, wickets fell at regular intervals. Hasan Ali bagged his first wicket in the form of Christopher Carter. Shadab then rose with the ball and scalped 2 wickets in his first over.
Hong Kong was in deep trouble at 44/5 in the 17th over. Kinchit Shah and Aizaz Khan showed some courage and kept the wickets intact for a while. They added 53 runs for the 6th wicket off 83 balls. Aizaz’s stay at the crease was ended by Usman Khan for 27 in the 31st over. Usman struck twice in the same over to dent the innings further.
Hasan Ali came back to pick up his second wicket when Kinchit departed for 26. The last wicket fell in the 38th over when Ehsan Nawaz got into a terrible confusion in running between the wickets and was found short of the crease. Hong Kong was bowled out for 116, a score that was going to pose very little difficulty for Pakistan.
A walk in the park for Pakistan
Pakistan had a steady start to their chase. The Hong Kong bowlers kept it tight but the batsmen were in no hurry initially. The score reached 25/0 after 6 overs when Fakhar Zaman decided to open up. He struck a four and a six to take the score to 35/0 after 7 overs after which the innings break was taken.
After the break, Fakhar was dismissed by Ehsan Khan for 24 in the 9th over. Babar Azam came out to bat at No.3 and showed what class he possesses. There was absolutely no trouble for him or his partner at the other end. The duo put on 52 runs for the 2nd wicket that took their side on the brink of a victory.
Babar became Ehsan’s second victim for 33 in the 21st over. Shoaib Malik was the man at No.4 who became a spectator as Imam brought up his half-century. The winning runs came off Malik’s bat as Pakistan sailed past the target in the 24th over and won the match comfortably by 8 wickets.
Hong Kong won the toss and opted to bat first
Hong Kong: 116/10 in 37.1 overs
Aizaz Khan 27 (47), Kinchit Shah 26 (50)
Usman Khan 19/3 (7.3), Hasan Ali 19/2 (7.1)
Pakistan: 120/2 in 23.4 overs
Imam-ul-Haq 50* (69), Babar Azam 33 (36)
Ehsan Khan 34/2 (8)
Pakistan won by 8 wickets
Player of the Match: Usman Khan
The Rose Bowl, Southampton
Kidderminster Cricket Club
Old Trafford, Manchester
Riverside Ground, Durham
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