Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav during the match.©AFP
Star batsman Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav struck half a century to help India enter the Super Four stage of the Asian Cup with a 40-point win over Hong Kong on Wednesday. Kohli made 59 while Suryakumar smashed 68 from 26 balls as the pair went on an unbeaten 98 to lead India to 192-2 after being batted first in the Twenty20 tournament in Dubai. Hong Kong were held to 152-5 in response as India recorded their second straight win to join Afghanistan in the next round of the six-nation tournament, which serves as a build-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November . But it was Suryakumar’s batting blitz that stood out as the number four battled his way to a 50 from 22 and finished the innings with four sixes in the final.
Hong Kong, which made the main draw after winning all three of their qualifiers in Oman, had largely controlled India before losing their way once Suryakumar started playing.
Kohli, 33, who is going through a long batting slump and scored 35 in his side’s first win over Pakistan, also entered his 31st half-century in his 101st T20 international.
Skipper Rohit Sharma started cautiously before hitting Hong Kong medium pace thrower Haroon Arshad for two sixes and a four in a 22-point third.
Spinner Ehsan Khan slowed the scoring and setter Ayush Shukla reaped the benefits in the next set by knocking out Rohit with a slow lag. He made 21.
Kohli entered to the cheers of a sparse Indian crowd but struggled to play freely against a disciplined bowling attack that reduced runs.
Kohli eventually opened up for a boundary with a straight drive from leg spinner Mohammad Ghazanfar and quickly found a rhythm as he hit three sixes in his 44-ball shot.
KL Rahul and Kohli held the score with occasional boundary singles and deuces to put up 56 runs before Ghazanfar broke through with Rahul’s wicket (36). Quick left-arm Arshdeep Singh struck early for India with Yasim Murtaza’s wicket but Babar Hayat replied with a couple of attacking shots.
Skipper Nizakat Khan fell on a straight throw from Ravindra Jadeja, who then put Hayat out for 41 with his left arm spin.
Kinchit Shah (30) and Zeeshan Ali (26 not out) also played useful shots to reduce the margin of loss.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will face off for a Super Four spot in Group B in a do-or-die match on Thursday after Afghanistan pulled away with two wins.
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