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Asia Cup 2018: 5 Reasons Why Pakistan Won Against Hong Kong
- Updated: September 17, 2018
Pakistan initiated their Asia Cup campaign with a comfortable victory over Hong Kong. After reducing their opponents to a lowly target of 116 runs, they cruised towards a victory over Anshuman Rath’s team. Pacer Usman Khan, who notched three dismissals in 7.3 overs was awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ award.
Here are the five reasons why Sarfaraz Khan’s team won against Hong Kong.
#1 Early Breakthroughs
Hong Kong won the toss and elected to bat first, which is an advisable move against Pakistan since the possibility of the Men In Green put up an excessively high total was high. Pakistan’s opening bowling duo of Mohammad Amir and Usman Shah were disciplined and constrained Hong Kong quite well.
Though Amir conceded 11 runs in his first over, he then bowled six overs more and gave away mere nine runs. Shah was instrumental too, as he hit the right lengths and used his slightly bent bowling action to generate more bounce from the pitch.
He created some stifling angles and hence troubled the opposition batsmen. However, Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan managed to preserve their wickets against the two pacers. Unfortunately for Hong Kong, Khan was run out in the fifth over by Shadab Khan. This certainly initiated continuous fall of wickets, as Rath was caught behind by Sarfaraz through a delivery from Faheem Ashraf.
Rath is the team’s mainstay in batting and his departure crumbled the top order to some extent. Later, Hasan Ali dismissed Christopher Carter within the 15th over itself and accordingly Hong Kong lost three wickets quite early into the game.
#2 Mounting pressure midway through the innings
We have seen teams soften their grip and lessen the gear after an initial period of dominance while bowling. However, Pakistan were intent on intimidating the Hong Kong team, as their bowlers rarely put a put wrong and bowled at appropriate lengths throughout the innings.
Even when Hong Kong managed to stitch a decent partnership through KD Shah and Aizaz Khan, the Pakistani bowlers made it difficult for them to notch runs in the middle of the innings. Khan and Shah scored 53 runs in 13.5 overs, but Usman Shah bowled Khan over at the start of the 31st over.
The pacers were economical for Pakistan too as Amir, Khan, Ashraf and Ali conceded at less than three RPO. Hence, it is commendable that Sarfaraz Khan’s men did not become complacent and were constantly on the lookout for some scalps.
They remained economical, bowled at the accurate areas and thus bundled Hong Kong quite well.
#3 Sheer difference in abilities of both teams
While Hong Kong are the deserved participants in the Asia Cup due to their excellent run in the qualifiers, there still has to be a lot of work done in their squad. Against Pakistan, they simply weren’t up for the task and despite showing some resilience; they failed to test their opponents.
Anshuman Rath is arguably their best batsman, but even he struggled when forced to adopt a more defensive role. Overall, the Hong Kong team was far behind their opponents in terms of conducting and structuring their innings.
However, they shouldn’t be blamed for it as the team has managed to reach this far despite training with relatively lesser infrastructure and facilities as their opponents.
Pakistan made work difficult for them through a disciplined approach while bowling and Rath’s team could have shown more maturity in building their innings.
It was undoubtedly a learning experience for the minnows, but they should make it a point to deliver an improved performance against India day after tomorrow.
#2 Imam-ul-Haq’s unbeaten knock
Though the target was comparatively easier to chase, Pakistan’s opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq displayed the correct attitude and remained unbeaten at the end. He played a good knock, applied himself appropriately and played every delivery to its merit.
His presence is quite assuring, as Imam hardly commits himself to unnecessary shots and constructively builds the innings. He kept the scoreboard ticking with regular runs and pounced on any loose delivery to notch a boundary or so.
There was a portion in the game when Ehsan Khan seemed to trouble him with some wily off spinners, but Imam survived through those deliveries and later capitalized on the other bowlers’ poor deliveries. He scored 50 runs from 69 deliveries, but most importantly ensured that he stuck around until the target was achieved.
He carried the other batsmen along with him and refrained from taking unnecessary risks either.
The solidarity that he provided at the top was commendable and Imam could be expected to be a vital cog in Pakistan’s lineup if they were to lift the coveted trophy on 28th September.
#1 An overall professional performance from Pakistan
We have often noticed stronger teams losing their concentration and taking their opponents lightly to preserve their players for the more important stages of the tournament.
However, right from the beginning the Pakistani team were thoroughly professional in their approach and fielded a full-strength team.
Even during bowling, as mentioned earlier, they managed to maintain pressure over Hong Kong’s batsmen, eventually succumbing them into making errors. The batsmen were resolute, matured and took calculated risks to reach their target.
There were no panicky moments as Sarfaraz Khan ensured that there was composure and intensity while bowling. In the second innings, Imam-ul-Haq’s sensible innings is praiseworthy as he tried to keep things simple and carefully guided his team to an essential victory in the first game.
Champions maintain a fine balance between aggression and composure, something that the current Pakistani team seems to be doing. They obviously have the benefit of familiar conditions in the UAE. However, it was the mentality and poise with which they secured a victory that must have impressed the viewers.