XtraTime Web Desk: Indian cricket team’s star opener Shikhar Dhawan, who scored a century to help the Men in Blue post a competitive total against Hong Kong, gave the credit for the narrow win to the Indian team’s bowling unit.
The opener led the Indian batting effort from the top, hitting 127 runs in 120 balls – his 14th one-day international century. With Ambati Rayudu’s 70-ball 60, Dhawan’s century helped India post 285/7 in what was their opening game of the Asia Cup 2018.
Hong Kong, who were bowled out for 116 in their first game against Pakistan, had clearly done their homework, learnt their lessons, and came back strong on Tuesday, 19 September.
Chasing 286, Hong Kong got off to a dream start with the openers – Nizakat Khan (92) and Anshuman Rath (73) – adding 174 for the first wicket. For Rath and Co, beating one of the tournament’s favourites became a likely possibility before India’s bowlers pulled things back and restricted them to 259/8 for a 26-run win.
Dhawan praised Hong Kong’s openers, saying, “We didn’t expect that they were going to score a 174-run partnership. But they played well and, of course, we could have been more consistent in our bowling but we have to give credit to their batsmen.
“Both the opening batsmen played really well. The way they played their shots and the way they were calculative about scoring runs, it was good. I have to appreciate their good batting as well.”
Rath and Khan batted till the start of the 35th over before falling in consecutive overs – Rath first, to Kuldeep Yadav, and Khan soon after, to debutant Khaleel Ahmed.
“There wasn’t much of a swing or seam on the wicket,” Dhawan pointed out. “Not that we didn’t know much about Hong Kong, of course, we watch videos where the player’s batting or bowling.
“Some of our bowlers were playing after a long time. Like Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) coming after a break, Shardul (Thakur) was in England but he didn’t play a match for two months. So it takes time to get into the rhythm as well. And at the same time, Khaleel bowled really well.
“Of course we couldn’t get the wicket at the start but later on the way, we came back in the game and the way our fast bowlers or spinners as well, they both took wickets, that was good.”
Dhawan also admitted that India were confident of pulling things back, and all they needed for that was to break the opening partnership.
“We knew that once we get the top-order wickets, we can come back in the game. Obviously, they gave a decent fight and it is always good to learn from every match,” he said. “It’s good that we played this game and built pressure. Tomorrow (against Pakistan) is going to be a big pressure game, so that pressure (against Hong Kong) will actually help tomorrow.”
India will be facing Pakistan on Wednesday, without a day’s gap, and Dhawan said that India will go into the crucial clash with a “positive and strong” mindset.
“The ideal situation will be to have a break and then play. We all are humans, so we also get tired as well. But at the same time, we are quite strong enough. Once we go and come tomorrow, of course, it’s a big game, and we all are going to be positive and strong,” he said.