A complacent Indian cricket team survived an early scare to script an unimpressive 26-run win against minnows Hong Kong in their opening group game of the 2018 Asia Cup. In a match that was meant to be a practice match for the Men in Blue to familiarize with the conditions, served as a harsh reality check for the Rohit Sharma led-side ahead of their marquee clash against arch-rivals Pakistan.
The Indian cricket team's performances seem to have come under the radar since their debacle of the recently concluded England tour. But in the end, they managed to save themselves from embarrassment against a spirited Hong Kong side. Here's a look at the five key takeaways from the match:
Gabbar is back?
Shikhar Dhawan has put behind his recent poor run of form by smashing his 14th ODI ton against Hong Kong. The southpaw opened the innings along with skipper Rohit Sharma, but the later was dismissed prematurely for 33 runs. Unfazed by the opening loss, he continued to anchor the innings alongside Ambatti Rayudu. Gabbar went on to score 127 runs smashing fifteen boundaries and two sixes. Hopefully, he can maintain this hot-form against Pakistan.
Hong-Kong's bold batting
Hong Kong openers, Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath got off to a superb start by completely dominating the Indian bowlers in the first powerplay. Nizakat and Anshuman piled the pressure on the Men in Blue by stitching a 127 runs partnership for the first wicket. In the process, they also broke a 17-year-old record by registering the highest ODI partnership for an associate nation against India.
Khaleel Ahmed brilliance
Khaleel Ahmed picked up three wickets on his ODI debut for the Indian cricket team. Most notably, he will savor his debut for providing India the breakthrough by bringing an end to Nizrat Khan's innings of 92. The bowler bowled brilliantly under pressure and is most likely to keep his place in the starting lineup for the match against Pakistan.
Listless bowling attack
India opted to go out with Bhuneshwar Kumar, who played his first competitive international match since his injury layoff, and on the other hand was Shardul Thakur who barely featured in the month-long England. Both the bowlers looked rusty as they made the 286-run target an easy task for the Hong Kong openers. Also, spin bowling duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav failed to make the most of the wicket. Overall the Men in Blue lacked the balance and intensity in their bowling unit.
The Indian middle order crisis continued as they failed to deliver yet again. A fragile middle order gave into the conditions and failed to apply themselves against the inexperienced Honk Kong bowlers. India could only manage 48 runs in the last 10 overs at the loss of five wickets. While Dinesh Karthik justified his selection by grafting a gritty 33 runs, but for MS Dhoni, it was a poor outing as he failed to reassert his presence in ODI cricket by getting dismissed for a duck after facing just three deliveries.
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