The clash was always going to be a David vs Goliath battle. Not many would have expected Hong Kong to give Pakistan, one of the contenders for the title, a stiff challenge let alone beating them. And in the end, Pakistan thrashed Hong Kong by 8 wickets without even breaking a sweat to kickstart their Asia Cup in style.
Anshuman Rath’s decision to bat first backfired badly. The minnows started brightly with Nizakat Khan hitting Mohammad Amir for two fours to collect 11 runs off the first over. The first over of the innings, however, was not the precursor of the things that were to follow. The next 21 balls yielded just 6 runs before Shadab Khan ran Khan out for 13. And any hopes of posting a challenging total all but ended when Faheem Ashraf made Hong Kong skipper Anshuman Rath edge one behind for 19.
From thereon Hong Kong, playing their first Asia Cup since 2008, kept on losing wickets at regular intervals which never gave their innings the impetus. From 32 for 1, they found themselves 5 down for just 44. Kinchit Shah and Aizaz Khan then added 53 runs for the sixth wicket to give some respectability to the total before Hong Kong lost three wickets to get 8 down for 97 from 97 for 5. The last wicket stand of 17 runs then helped them cross the 100-run mark and post 116.
In reply, Pakistan chased down the total inside 24 overs by losing just two wickets. In form Imam-ul-Haq led the chase with an unbeaten fifty while Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam scored 24 and 33 respectively.
Speaking after the game, Anshuman Rath rued that the total was not good enough and rued the dismissals.
“There were a lot of soft dismissals and 120 is not good enough. Credit to the Pakistani bowlers ,but i think there were a lot of soft dismissals. Spinners were top class, but we didn’t score enough to give them support. Great to go out there and great to face them. At the end of the day we wanted to put up a fight and today we just didn’t try. Early on, it did swing a big and there was bounce too. We did get to a start, but we didn’t convert it in the middle overs.Not a good enough total,” he said at the presentation ceremony.