Virat Kohli scored his 31st T20I half century to match Rohit Sharma’s record, and Suryakumar Yadav smashed 60 off 26 balls as India beat Hong Kong by 40 runs in the Asia Cup match here on Wednesday.
The pair’s whirlwind partnership set Hong Kong a target of 193, and despite giving a good account of themselves, the Associate nation could manage to score only 152 for the loss of five wickets.
On a two-paced wicket where the duo of Rohit Sharma and K. L. Rahul failed to convert their starts, Suryakumar showed how its done, with his wide range of shots at the Dubai International Stadium.
Batting on 42, Suryakumar smashed Haroon Arshad for four sixes from five balls in the final over, which yielded India 26 runs. He got to his fifty in just 22 balls.
Having shown his intent in a 34-ball 35 against Pakistan on Sunday, Kohli notched his first International half-century since his 52 against the West Indies in Kolkata on February 18, 2022.
From 94/2 in 13 overs, the duo of Kohli and Suryakumar stepped up in style with the latter exhibiting his 360-degree strokemaking skills.
The pair added 98 runs in an unbroken third-wicket partnership that came from just 42 balls. India stepped up in style in the final five overs, which got them 78 runs.
As for the famed Indian top-order, Rahul, who is coming back from an injury layoff, looked out of sorts, even against the inexperienced rivals and consumed 39 balls for his 36.
Of his two sixes, one came off a free-hit as the Indian vice-captain struggled to break free, allowing pressure to mount on his skipper who was the first to get out, mistiming a slower one from Ayush Shukla.
Rohit departed for a 13-ball 21 but not before becoming the first to get past 3500 runs in T20Is. Rohit also got past 12000 runs as an opener in international cricket, the second fastest after Sachin Tendulkar.
Under pressure to break free, Rahul eventually perished, sweeping a delivery outside off to get an edge behind the stumps.
That led to the arrival of Suryakumar into the crease, and the carnage orchestrated by the Mumbaikar himself, in the back 10. Kohli’s 31st fifty puts him level with Rohit Sharma for most half centuries in T20I world cricket.
Hong Kong puts up a fight
While it was expected that India would steamroll the minnows, Hong Kong went down fighting. Babar Hayat and Kinchit Shah delivered impressive scores of 41 and 30, while the Indian bowlers disappointed captain Rohit Sharma, who wore a frown during the final overs.
Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan went for 44 and 53 runs in their four overs, giving coach Rahul Dravid much to think about ahead of the next match on Sunday.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal and Arshdeep Singh
Hong Kong: Nizakat Khan(c), Yasim Murtaza, Babar Hayat, Kinchit Shah, Aizaz Khan, Scott McKechnie (w), Zeeshan Ali, Haroon Arshad, Ehsan Khan, Ayush Shukla and Mohammad Ghazanfar
(With inputs from PTI)