India qualifies for semi-final in Asia Cup

By Kersi Meher-Homji 

India has started the Twenty20 Asia Cup campaign in UAE with a bang. While all-rounder Hardik Pandya was the hero of India’s thrilling win over Pakistan on Monday, flamboyant batter Suryakumar Yadav was behind India’s facile victory over Hong Kong on Thursday.

India tops Group A with 4 points followed by Pakistan 2 points and Hong Kong pointless. Thus both India and Pakistan have qualified for the semi-final.

In Group B, Afghanistan leads with 4 points followed by Sri Lanka 2 points and Bangladesh remains pointless.

The match between India and Pakistan in Group A at Dubai was a thriller. Sent in to bat Pakistan scored 147 in 19.5 overs, opening batter Mohammad Rizwan top scoring with 43. Fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar captured 4 for 26 and medium-pacer Hardik Pandya 3 for 25.

India reached the winning target with only two balls in hand, thanks to Virat Kohli’s 35, Ravindra Jadeja’s 35 and Hardik Pandya’s unbeaten 33.

Pandya was adjudged Player of the Match. What a wonderful comeback for him after a severe lower back injury!

Match against Hong Kong

Unlike the exciting finish against Pakistan, India’s match against Hong Kong also at Dubai was one-sided. Suryakumar Yadav was in terrific form smashing 68 unbeaten runs off only 39 balls hitting 6 fours and 6 spectacular sixes. He added 98 runs off 42 balls with Kohli as India totaled 2 for 192 in 20 overs at a fast run rate of 9.60.

To quote Shashank Kishore of ESPNCricinfo, “One flies as the other fights”, summing up the batsmanship of Suryakumar and Kohli.

Hong Kong replied with 5 for 152 in 20 overs and India won by 40 runs. For his adventurous batting Suryakumar was made Player of the Match.

He said at the presentation, “Some of [my shots] are predetermined, because this format is about how you prepare when you go in to bat, but it’s important to stay in the present when you go out there. [The pitch] was a little slow, watching from outside, but my plan was clear. My role was to take the tempo up and express myself. [Adapting to different roles] I think you’ve got to be flexible, you should be good to bat at any number. I really love and enjoy it.”

India’s captain Rohit Sharma added, “We batted pretty well to start with, and got to a very good score at the end, and came out and bowled reasonably well. Thought we could have done slightly better with the ball. Honestly the kind of innings that [Suryakumar] played today, the words will be short. Every now and then, he comes up with such kind of knocks.

“With the confidence he’s got, he’s going to come out and bat fearlessly, and some of the shots he played today, they are not in the books. The shot selection was also crucial, we know he can play all around the park, and that’s what he did today. Flexibility is something we want to keep in our minds. We’ve also informed the group about this. Most of the guys are ready to take the opportunity and bat wherever they need to. We can talk about flexibility but you have to go out there and do it too. When we see the right match-ups, we’re going to try and use that.”

Last night Pakistan thrashed Hong Kong by 155 runs to qualify for the semi-final. After scoring 2 for 193 Pakistan dismissed Hong Kong for 38, not one batsman reaching double figures!

India will meet Sri Lanka while Pakistan will take on Afghanistan in the semi-finals. The Final will be played at Dubai on 11th September.

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