DUBAI: Star batsman Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav hit half-centuries to help India move into the T20 Asia Cup Super Four stage with a 40-run win over Hong Kong here at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.
Kohli made 59 while Suryakumar smashed 68 off 26 balls as the pair put on an unbeaten stand of 98 to steer India to 192-2 after being put in to bat first in the T20 tournament.
Hong Kong were limited to 152-5 in reply as India registered their second successive victory to join Afghanistan in the next round of the six-nation tournament, which acts as a tune-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November.
But it was Suryakumar’s batting blitz that stood out as the number four blasted his way to a 22-ball fifty and finished the innings with four sixes in the final over.
Hong Kong, who made the main draw after winning all three of their matches in the qualifiers in Oman, had largely kept India in check before losing their way once Suryakumar started teeing off.
The 33-year-old Kohli, who is going through an extended batting slump and made 35 in his team’s opening win over Pakistan, also got going to complete his 31st half-century in his 101st T20 International.
Skipper Rohit Sharma started cautiously before clubbing Hong Kong medium-pace bowler Haroon Arshad for two sixes and a four in a 22-run third over.
Spinner Ehsan Khan slowed the scoring and seamer Ayush Shukla reaped the benefits in the next over as he took down Rohit with a slow off-cutter. He made 21.
Kohli walked in to loud cheers from a sparse Indian crowd but struggled to play freely against a disciplined bowling attack which kept the runs down.
Kohli finally opened up to get a boundary with a straight drive off leg-spinner Mohammad Ghazanfar and soon found some rhythm as he hit three sixes in his 44-ball knock.
KL Rahul and Kohli kept the score ticking with singles and twos with occasional boundaries to put on 56 runs before Ghazanfar broke through with the wicket of Rahul (36).
Left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh struck early for India with the wicket of Yasim Murtaza but Babar Hayat countered with some attacking shots.
Skipper Nizakat Khan fell to a direct throw from Ravindra Jadeja, who then removed Hayat for 41 with his left-arm spin.
Kinchit Shah (30) and Zeeshan Ali (26 not out) also played useful knocks to reduce the margin of defeat.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will battle it out for a Super Four spot from Group B in a do-or-die match on Thursday after Afghanistan moved clear with two wins.
Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2022