India would be on cloud nine after beating Pakistan in their 2022 Asia Cup opener, courtesy a superb performance by the pacers and later, a cool and calm finish by all-rounder Hardik Pandya to bag the all-important two points.
After the 10-wicket thrashing at the hands of Pakistan at the 2021 T20 World Cup in Dubai, India came into the Asia Cup wondering if they’d be able to overcome a new and improved green side, led by skipper Babar Azam.
The match went till the last over, filled with nail-biting moments for both teams, but the Men in Blue walked out of the Dubai International Cricket Stadium victorious, and with a sigh of relief that they are nearly through to the Super Fours.
Come their second group match against Hong Kong, India would be planning to test out a few new strategies and possibly iron out a few flaws which they showcased against an inspired Pakistani bowling attack.
Pace sensation Naseem Shah, making his T20I debut, was on fire against India from the word go, bagging the wicket of KL Rahul and later in-form Suryakumar Yadav, both cleaned up with pacey deliveries. He was limping due to cramps in the final over of his spell, but somehow mustered the courage to bowl two more deliveries, for team and for his captain.
Right-arm pacer Haris Rauf also pulled his leg muscles but kept breathing fire before the penultimate over, where three boundaries off his over made the chase easy for India.
India would be wary of their batsmen struggling against genuine pace, even in the UAE conditions which are more conducive to spinners, but they’ll be happy to see their own pacers display form in the opener.
It was the first time in the history of T20Is, that Indian pacers bagged all 10 wickets, a number which would boost India’s confidence when they take on Hong Kong, a team 19 spots below the Rohit-led side.
Pandya will once again be the one in the spotlight with both his bowling and his batting, after he delivered figures of 25-3 in his four overs against Pakistan. He later scored unbeaten 33 off 17, including a six off spinner Mohammad Nawaz in the final over to guide his team past the finish line.
Hong Kong’s chances
Hong Kong might not have proven credentials of bringing down cricket’s goliaths, but due to the uncertainty of the T20 format, they’ll be hopeful of giving India a run for their money on Wednesday.
Hong Kong beat the UAE to qualify for the 2022 Asia Cup as the sixth team in the event.
They’ll be looking towards their captain Nizakat Khan to lead the way with his all-round capabilities, while batter Babar Hayat will also try to throw as many runs in the mix as possible to try and guide his side to a victory over India.
Nizakat averages 26-plus with the strike-rate of over 113 in the 10 T20 matches he has played, while Hayat has scored 217 runs in eight matches, striking at over 134 in the shortest format.
In the bowling department, spinner Ehsan Khan and pacer Aizaz Khan would be their best bet as they attempt to down one of the best batting line-ups in T20Is.
Ehsan boasts 20 wickets in the 10 matches he has played, while Aizaz has dismissed 15 batters in his 10 outings.
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