Asia Cup: India ready to tame heat and Hong Kong

India’s match against Hong Kong will be an ‘appetiser’ before cricket junkies are treated to a lavish spread of main course which will be the Indo-Pak rivalry.

India’s match against Hong Kong will be an ‘appetiser’ before cricket junkies are treated to a lavish spread of main course which will be the Indo-Pak rivalry.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Even without regular skipper Virat Kohli, the Indian side, led by Rohit Sharma, is an intimidating one in the limited-overs format.

Four days after he touched down on the desert safari, India captain Rohit Sharma finally had the full squad assembled for its first — and only — full training session ahead of opening the Asia Cup campaign against rookies Hong Kong.

But, rather than preparing for the possible challenges posed by the rank outsider, while training at the ICC Academy ground on Tuesday, the Men in Blue seemed to be focusing on not thinking about facing Pakistan on Wednesday and getting used to the scorching heat.


The India captain was even asked whether the heat or Hong Kong would pose the bigger challenge. Rohit smiled and came up with a long, typecast answer about how “every game is important”.

Huge disparity

But the fact of the matter is the disparity between the two sides is so much that it may end being as lop-sided a game as Hong Kong's mauling by Pakistan on Sunday night. 

It is unlikely the Indians, especially pace bowlers, will go full throttle considering that the match is going to be a virtual warm-up ahead of Wednesday’s engagement.

More importantly, the Indians will be tested even more against Pakistan since they will be playing on successive days in conditions far from ideal for outdoor sport.


However, it would be interesting to see India's top-six on Tuesday. After all, as India enters the final stretch of its preparations ahead of next year's World Cup, at least one middle-order slot is wide open.

It is likely that India will start the tournament with K.L. Rahul, Ambati Rayudu and Manish Pandey occupying the third, fourth and fifth positions, respectively, before Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Hardik Pandya come in as designated finishers.

Should India decide to try out another combination, it has multiple options with Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik, both of whom had a long stint in the nets on Monday, waiting in the wings.

Task cut out

While India may experiment, Hong Kong will be hoping to improve on its disappointing outing on Sunday. With the dynamics of international cricket, the minnows aren't sure how long they will have to wait before getting a game against a top side.

And Anshuman Rath & Co. will be looking forward to staking a claim and justifying its qualification for the continental showdown.

Rath admitted that Hong Kong's batting unit had not put up a fight against Pakistan, as was evident in the fact that it could only muster a meagre total of 116. The onus will be on him to lead from the front and set the tone for his teammates should Hong Kong end up batting first yet again.

The squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan (Vice-capt.) , K.L. Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Khaleel Ahmed.

Hong Kong: Anshuman Rath (Capt.), Aizaz Khan, Babar Hayat, Cameron McAulsan, Christopher Carter (wk), Ehsan Khan, Ehsan Nawaz, Arshad Mohammad, Kinchit Shah, Nadeem Ahmed, Raag Kapur, Scott McKechnie, Tanveer Ahmed, Tanwir Afzal, Waqas Khan and Aftab Hussain.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 9:45:38 PM |

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