Wednesday August 31, 2022

Suryakumar lights up Dubai Stadium as India rout Hong Kong

Suryakumar lights up Dubai Stadium as India rout Hong Kong

India's Suryakumar Yadav plays a shot while Hong Kong's wicketkeeper Scott McKechnie watches during their T20 cricket match of Asia Cup in Dubai on Wednesday. AP

Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter

Suryakumar Yadav smashed a blitzkrieg fifty and Virat Kohli heralded his return to form with an unbeaten 44-ball 59 as India defeated Hong Kong by 40 runs to seal a spot in the Super 4 at the Asia Cup in Dubai on Wednesday.

The match turned out be a lopsided affair as expected. Hong Kong were never in chase and kept on losing the wickets at regular intervals as they crumbled under the pressure of a huge score.

However, there were some positives for them as a few of their players put up some resistance. Babar Hayat (41) was the highest scorer, followed by Kinchit Shah (30).

Suryakuma was more than a foil to Kohli as he stole the limelight with a quick-fire 68 off 26 balls, reaching his second-best score in the T20Is. It was one of those roles when a cameo overshadows a protagonist.

Suryakuamr and Kohli added an unbeaten 96 runs for the third wicket to decimate the hapless Hong Kong bowling attack. After the dismissal of Rahul, Kohli was joined by Suryakumar, who had come in with a different plans. He lighted up the Dubai cricket with some fireworks. He enthralled the crowd with his captivating shots and kept them on their toes.

He made his intentions clear from the first ball as he got off the mark with a boundary and followed it up with another, taking the pressure off Kohli, who had slowed down as he was nearing his half-century after 30 matches.

Kohli has been out of form for long period as he has not scored a century for 1000 days in any format of the game. His form has been a great concern for Indian cricket and they want him to find his mojo before the T20 World Cup Australia.

India are using the Asia Cup as a preparatory platform in their run-up to the T20 World Cup in Australia. They are trying different opening combinations. They also rested all-rounder Hardik Pandya, brought in Rishabh Pant to try the bench strength.

Kohli kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and double, hitting occasional boundaries while Suryakumar took the onus of spurring the run rate as India scored 80 runs in the last five overs without losing wicket.

Both the batsmen toyed with the Hong Kong bowling attack but Suryakumar was far more brutal. They changed the gears in the 16th as the duo collected 20 runs off Aizaz with the help of two sixes and one four.

Ehsan bowled a tight 17th over, stopping the free flow of runs as he conceded only four runs. But the price for that was paid by Shukla, who gave away 15 runs. Kohli remained on 48 while Suryakuma moved to  41 from 27 in the same over.

Kohli flicked Ehsan to midwicket and stole a couple of runs to bring up his first fifty after 30 innings in T20Is. He must have heaved a sigh of relief. He was getting starts but failed to convert them into big scores every time before this innings. Soon after reaching the fifty, Kohli also changed his gears and hit a six off Ehsan as India reached 166/3 at the end of the 19th over.

Suryakumar smashed four sixes and took a couple to plundered a whopping 26 runs off the last over bowled by Haroon Arshad. He displayed an array of shots and hit Arshad all over the ground to take India to 192/3.

Earlier, India got off to a steady but slow start as the openers KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma added 38 runs for the first wicket to lay down a solid foundation.

Rohit could not keep calm for long as he hit two fours and one six in his 13-ball 22. He holed to Aizaz off Ayush Shukla. Kohli along with Rahul took the innings forward from there on.

They shared a 56-run partnership for the second wicket but consumed too many deliveries, scoring 56 runs in eight overs. Both the batsmen played cautiously and took the score 94 in 12.4 before Rahul was caught by wicket-keeper McKechnie off Ghazanfar.

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