DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Suryakumar Yadav hit a blistering unbeaten 68 and Virat Kohli equaled the record of most half centuries in T20 internationals as India romped to a 40-run victory over underdog Hong Kong in the Asia Cup on Wednesday.
The victory lifted India to the Super 4 stage by finishing first in Group A after it also beat archrival Pakistan in its first match last Sunday.
Suryakumar smashed six fours and six sixes in a superb display of power-hitting off just 26 balls in the death overs while Kohli made an unbeaten 59 off 44 deliveries with three sixes and a four in India’s strong total of 192-2.
Hong Kong edged India in the batting powerplay with 51-2, mainly due to top-scorer Babar Hayat (41), before it could reach 152-5.
“Some of (my shots) are predetermined, because this format is about how you prepare when you go in to bat,” Suryakumar said. "My role was to take the tempo up and express myself. I think you’ve got to be flexible, you should be good to bat at any number. I really love and enjoy it.”
Kohli looked nervy against Pakistan in his comeback game and also looked edgy on Wednesday before raising his 31st T20 half century which brought him on par with skipper Rohit Sharma’s record of most fifties in the shortest format.
Rohit, who lost the toss, and Lokesh Rahul were tied down by Hong Kong's pace and offspin of Ehsan Ali in the batting powerplay.
Rohit made 21 off 13 balls before he got caught at mid-on off an offcutter from seamer Ayush Shukla which hit the top of his bat and didn’t get enough power.
Rahul’s struggles continued for the second successive game and after his golden duck against Pakistan, as he labored to 36 off 39 balls before edging to wicketkeeper in the 13th over.
Kohli took a backseat and Suryakumar gave India acceleration — especially smashing boundaries at will against Hong Kong’s inexperienced pace attack.
Kohli completed his half century in the penultimate over by clipping Ehsan to midwicket for two.
Suryakumar smacked fast bowler Arshad Khan (0-53) for four sixes in the last over — which went for 26 — and also completed his half century off just 22 balls which provided India a perfect finish.
Hong Kong lagged far behind in its run-chase once Ravindra Jadeja first had skipper Nizakat Khan (10) run out off a brilliant direct throw from point and then had dangerman Hayat caught at point in the 12th over.
Zeeshan Ali (26 not out) and wicketkeeper batter Scott McKechnie (16 not out) narrowed the margin by hitting Indian fast bowlers Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh for 33 runs in the last two overs as India sealed the top spot in Group A.
“We were amazing till the 13th over, but we slipped after that,” Hong Kong skipper Khan said. “The way Suryakumar batted, it was good to watch. We’re going to sit down tomorrow, we will look at our death bowling and we will improve in the next game.”
Hong Kong will take on Pakistan in the last group game with the winner meeting India again in the second Super 4 game on Sunday. Afghanistan has already qualified for Super 4 from Group B after winning both its group games against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
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