Pakistan cruise past Hong Kong in their opening encounter

Pakistan beat Hong Kong by 8 wickets in a one-sided affair in the Group A encounter of the Asia Cup in Dubai on Sunday. Electing to bat first, Hong Kong bundled out for paltry 116 runs in 37.1 overs. Pakistan’s opener Imam Ul Haq hit an unbeaten fifty to chase down the target in 23.4 overs.

                                                         

Pakistani bowlers produced clinical spells to dismiss the Hong Kong batsmen. Seamer Usman Khan picked up 3/19 and emerged as the highest wicket-taker. Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali picked up two wickets each and Faheem Ashraf took one wicket as they exposed Hong Kong’s weakness. Hong Kong qualified for the tournament after they won the Asia Cup qualifiers.

Though Pakistan had a first easy win in the tournament, the top order maintained intensity throughout the innings. They played proper cricketing shots and didn’t rush towards the win. The Hong Kong bowlers also played well but were unlucky with a couple of lbw shouts against in-form Imam who was fortunate to survive. Ehsan Khan was the top performer for the associate team picking up the two opposition wickets. Fakhar Zaman edged Khan’s delivery to the wicketkeeper early on in the innings and Babar Azam fell in the same fashion. Azam’s 36-ball 33 ensured that he became the joint second fastest batsman to get to 2000 ODI runs. It took him 45 matches. Only Hashim Amla has taken fewer matches (40) than him to get to that milestone.

Right at the beginning of the match, Mohammed Amir was whipped for 11 runs in the first over. It seemed like Hong Kong will make it a competitive game. But, after that Pakistan showed their superiority in every ball. Hong Kong batsmen fell in clumps with only one meaningful partnership between Kinchit Shah and Aizaz Khan. They shared a 53 run sixth-wicket partnership without which Hong Kong would have struggled to get to three figures.

But Usman Khan who also won the man of the match decimated the lower order. He picked up three wickets in one over to decimate Hong Kong’s dreams of a competitive score. But, he limped out of the field in the 33rd over of the game and Pakistan would hope that he would be okay to take the field against arch-rivals India.