Euro 2020 Special
 

India vs Hong Kong Asia Cup Preview: India Expected to Beat Minnows

India will play Hong Kong in the second match in Group A in this year’s Asia Cup on Wednesday, August 31st. The match will be played at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium and is scheduled to begin at 6 pm local time.

 

The state of the group

India began their campaign with a narrow win over their old foe Pakistan in the first group match at the same venue on Sunday. Although the margin of victory was five wickets in the end, that does not tell the whole story of the game which was only decided by a six off the third last ball.

Nevertheless, that almost guarantees them the top spot in the group because it would take an upset of epic proportions to deny them.

Hong Kong, who are playing their first match in the group, have had to battle to reach this stage.

They qualified via the Asia Cup qualifiers which were held in Oman, beating the UAE for the first time in their history in a competitive T20I to book their place in the Asia Cup for the fourth time in their history.

However, they have yet to win a game at the tournament.

 

Head to Head Record

That dismal record includes the only previous meeting between the teams in 2008 in this same competition when it was an ODI tournament.  Playing in Karachi, India batted first and racked up the runs, with MS Dhoni hammering an unbeaten 108 not off 96 balls and Suresh Raina scoring 101.

They helped India reached 374/4 from their allocated overs. Hong Kong were bowled out for just 118 as India won by a massive 256 runs.

 

Performances matter

With India already having one foot in the Super Four stage of the competition, the focus will be as much on individual performances as the result as far as India are concerned.

One man who needs to find some form is vice-captain KL Rahul. Parachuted into the ODI side that toured Zimbabwe at the last minute, he had mixed fortunes on that tour and was out for first ball against Pakistan. He needs to score runs in this match and across the rest of the tournament to prove that he is worthy of his T20I World Cup place.

Virat Kohli is another player who will be hoping for a strong performance. Rested for the West Indies series after a sustained period of indifferent form, he survived an early drop on Sunday’s match before going on to score 35 runs which would have boosted his confidence.

Now he will be hoping to build on that with another good knock.

 

The pitch

Again, the pitch is likely to give help to the seamers and traditionally favours the chasing side. Normally then, India would choose to field first if they won the toss, but there may be a temptation to opt to bat to give those short of runs match practice.

 

Predicted teams

India are expected to start with the same XI that they fielded in the match against Pakistan. That means no place again for Rishabh Pant, who was controversially left out of that game, with Dinesh Karthik again taking the wicket-keeping gloves.

The Hong Kong team is packed full of players born and raised outside the Chinese territory. Captain Nizakat Khan is of Pakistani origin, as is fellow opener Yasim Murtaza and much of the rest of the team, whilst wicketkeeper Scott McKechnie is English-born.

 

Prediction

It would be an upset of historic proportions if the outcome of this match were anything other than a convincing win for India. Whilst Hong Kong should not be taken lightly, they are very much the minnows of the group and are not used to playing in such august company.

That does not mean there is no pressure on certain individuals in the Indian side and KL Rahul will know that he needs to start scoring runs to justify his World Cup place.  Another failure and serious questions will be asked especially with a talent like Rishabh Pant side-lined.

For Hong Kong it is all about pride. They will want to avoid a heavy defeat to give themselves an outside chance of still progressing if they manage to beat Pakistan.

 

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