Dubai : Suryakumar Yadav’s fireworks in the last seven overs sealed India’s Super Four spot in Asia Cup 2022 with a 40-run win over Hong Kong in a Group A match at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
At 94/2 in 13 overs, when KL Rahul’s struggle ended at 36 off 39 balls, Suryakumar walked in and completely changed the complexion of India’s innings.With his drives, slashes, scoops and sweeps apart from audacious wrist play sending the ball all over the park, he remained unbeaten on 68 off 26 balls, hitting six fours and as many sixes. 60 of his 68 runs came off boundaries, scored at a strike-rate of 261.53.
His belligerent stroke-play made other batters in the Indian side look as if they were batting on a very different pitch. While Suryakumar hit 12 boundaries in his 26-ball knock, all other Indian batters managed to hit nine boundaries collectively in 96 balls.
Suryakumar also shared a 98-run stand off just 42 balls with Virat Kohli, who made 59 in 44 balls, hitting four and three sixes in his 31st T20I fifty and brought out some shots in the end as India fetched 78 runs in the last five overs to score a daunting 192/2, something which was a far possibility at the half-way mark score of 70/1.
For Hong Kong, who did well in keeping India to 70 at the half-way mark and managed to keep Rahul as well as Kohli quiet with their tight lines and lengths on a sticky pitch, they simply had no answers and were clueless in front of Suryakumar and his scintillating stroke play after electing to bowl first.
In chasing 193, they had a 71-run stand between Babar Hayat (41) and Kinchit Shah (30) to show while hitting 33 runs in the last two overs. But they were not enough to outshine the efforts of Suryakumar and Kohli.
For India, with the ball, spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravindra Jadeja conceded just 48 runs overall to make up for the 97 runs leaked collectively by young pacers Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh to reduce Hong Kong to 152/5 in their 20 overs.
Rohit Sharma made a quick 21 off 13 balls, hitting two fours and a six before he was late in pulling an off-cutter and took the top-edge to diving mid-on off pacer Ayush Shukla. Apart from smashing two sixes, Rahul struggled throughout his innings to time the ball.
Hong Kong bowling at slower pace, majorly on back of length and impressive in their tight lines on a two-paced pitch meant Rahul as well as Kohli were kept quiet for 3.2 overs.Kohli finally got his first boundary the 20th ball he faced, dancing down the pitch to smack over Mohammad Ghazanfar’s head.
Rahul desperately attempt to break free via sweep and reverse sweep. He tried to drag a sweep from a Ghazanfar delivery outside off-stump, but it took an edge behind.Suryakumar got going with back-to-back sweeps through deep square leg region off Murtaza.
He then got his third boundary in six balls, flicking past fine leg off Shukla. Kohli danced down the pitch and lofted Aizaz for six over deep mid-wicket while Suryakumar backed away to slash hard over short third man for four and scooped the very next ball over fine leg for six as 20 came off the over.
Suryakumar upped the ante by slamming Shukla for back-to-back fours off Shukla. After surviving lbw and stumping appeals, he brought out an astonishing flick off his toes for a six over deep square leg. After reaching his fifty in 40 balls, Kohli went down on one leg to dispatch Ehsan Khan over deep mid-wicket.
In the final over, Suryakumar swung his arms for successive sixes over cover off Arshad, second of which got him his fifty in 22 balls. He was still not done yet, presenting full face of the bat while lofting down the ground for a hat-trick of sixes and got his fourth six of the over by pulling over fine leg to walk off the stadium, leaving fans enthralled by his mesmerising blitz as 26 runs came off final over.
Arshdeep bounced out Yazim Murtaza in the second over. But Hayat took on Bhuvneshwar, Avesh and Arshdeep, slamming sixes down the ground and showing his leg-side play by slamming three fours in five balls.
But India ended power-play on a high, as Jadeja’s razor-sharp direct hit from point caught Nizakat Khan just short of his crease.Post power-play, Jadeja and Chahal applied breaks on Hong Kong’s scoring rate as just 14 runs came in next four overs.
In a bid to break the shackles, Hayat tried to take on Jadeja but ended up slicing to point. Shah swept, went inside-out and steered hard to pick boundaries.But with the required run rate going upwards, Avesh cleaned up Aizaz with a slower delivery while Shah, in a bid to go big, miscued to a juggling long-off off Bhuvneshwar.
Zeeshan Ali and Scott McKechnie hit a couple of boundaries in the last two overs. But by then India had all but sealed their second consecutive win in Asia Cup 2022 and a spot in Super four.
Brief Scores: India 192/2 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 68 not out, Virat Kohli 59 not out; Mohammad Ghazanfar 1/19, Ayush Shukla 1/29) beat Hong Kong 152/5 in 20 overs (Babar Hayat 41, Kinchit Shah 30, Ravindra Jadeja 1/15, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/15) by 40 runs