Asia Cup 2022: SKY makes all the difference for India; Kohli back in groove as well

After subdued first 10 overs, the 31-year-old's unbeaten 26-ball 68 helps India overcome Hong Kong by 40 runs.

Published: 01st September 2022 12:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st September 2022 12:49 AM   |  A+A-

India's Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav during the T20 cricket match of Asia Cup between India and Hong Kong. (Photo | PTI)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The innings was halfway through in Dubai. India were 70/1 against Hong Kong, with KL Rahul on 31 off 30 and Virat Kohli, 15 from 18 balls. The duo had been together for 31 balls, adding 32 runs off it.

Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma, had gotten out before hitting a quickfire 13-ball 21. Through the course of the second-wicket stand up until that point, there had been just one boundary.

At some level, they were struggling to keep the score going. And there weren’t many attacking shots either — India had one 22-run over in the powerplay and added as many runs in the other five. After all, Rahul was coming off an injury layoff while Kohli was searching for form. 

It was, probably, not a good time to be in the middle together, with the match-ups working against them. The pitch was getting slower, a clear indication of the ball stopping from the dismissal of Rohit. And Hong Kong were using spinners from both ends, something that is not a strong suit for both Rahul and Kohli in the middle-overs. 

70/1 was not really where India would have wanted to be after 10 overs as head coach Rahul Dravid walked in for a chat with the duo. With Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik and Ravindra Jadeja in waiting, they had to go for the big hits.

And it did not take long. The second ball of the eleventh over, Kohli charged down against leg spinner Mohammad Ghazanfar. It was just a two, but he succeeded in hitting the next delivery over the bowler’s head for a four. 

Over the next 18 balls, they tried to attack — Kohli even pulled off a slog sweep, something he doesn’t bring out often. They added 24 runs in between 11-13 overs, before Rahul got out for a paltry 39-ball 36. A partnership worth 56 from 49 balls.

But that was the breaking point. Suryakumar walked in, swept Yasim Murtaza for consecutive fours off the first two balls he faced. It was a clear indication of intent, no doubt, but it was also about skill.

The 31-year-old has been in the form of his life. What more, he has a range of shots like no other in this Indian side. He swept Ayush Shukla, and played a lofted late cut-off Aizaz Khan before scooping him for a six. 

At some level it rubbed off on Kohli as well, who hit a couple of maximums himself to up the ante, bringing up his fifty off 40 balls.

At the other end, it was sheer madness as Suryakumar finished with an unbeaten 68 off 26 balls, bludgeoning 26 runs off the last over. 

He was hitting sixes at will, so much so that, Kohli was cheering more than the fans who were in the stadium and watching on television sets back home, probably wishing he had the kind of range that Suryakumar did. 

They added 98 runs from 42 balls as India finished 192/2. In reply, Hong Kong made only 152/5, falling short by 40 runs.

India had two contrasting innings and partnerships on either side of the halfway mark. And that pretty much summed up India’s innings more than anything else. It was also a contrast of intent, skill, form and confidence and India would want to use it to their advantage.

Brief scores: India 192/2 in 20 ovs (Suryakumar 68 n.o, Kohli 59 n.o) bt Hong Kong 152/5  in 20 ovs (Babar 41; Jadeja 1/15).


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