It was a thoroughly professional performance by Pakistan as they won their opening clash of the Asia Cup 2018 campaign at Dubai International Stadium by eight wickets against Hong Kong on Sunday (September 16). Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed believes there are many loopholes to plug in before the marquee clash against India.
A victory was definitely on the cards for Pakistan as Hong Kong were nowhere close to the class of the Men in Green. They bowled well for a brief period. However, they didn’t have a big enough total to play with and ended up losing the match in a one-sided affair.
After batting first, Hong Kong kept losing wickets on a consistent basis and never really got going. Some impressive bowling by Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali and Usman Khan Shinwari got Pakistan off to a perfect start. They all bowled in the right areas, and the Hong Kong batters were not up to the desired level and kept giving away their wickets cheaply.
Captain Anshuman Rath looked in good touch and scored 19 before getting dismissed on the bowling of Faheem Ashraf. Shadab also bowled brilliantly in the middle overs and got wickets quite regularly.
Fast bowler Usman Khan came back strongly in his final spell to bag three quick wickets. Hong Kong was eventually skittled out for 116 runs in the 38th over. Usman was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets. Shadab and Hasan Ali also chipped in with a couple of wickets as Safraz Ahmed mixed bowlers well.
Pakistan was never in any trouble while chasing the total down. Openers Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq shared a 41-run partnership before Ehsan Khan bagged the wicket of Zaman.
Well, Babar Azam came out in the middle after the fall of his wicket. He looked in great touch from the outset and struck three fours and a six during his knock of 33 off 35 deliveries.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq eventually scored a gritty half-century as Pakistan chased the total down with 26.3 overs to spare. It will be a great victory for the Men in Green.
Here is what Sarfraz Ahmed, the skipper of the Hong Kong team said at the post-match presentation of their Asia Cup 2018 opener:
“As a captain, I saw the couple of things which we should work on. We should have finished this match with nine or 10 wickets. And we need to bowl better with the new ball. New ball didn’t swing for us and that is alarming for us. We will work on it in our next practice session. To win against India, we have to be at our best in all the three departments,” Sarfraz maintained.