Asia Cup: Pakistan thrash Hong Kong by 155 runs to reach Super Four

Hong Kong were outclassed by the superior Pakistan team in Sharjah

Pakistan spinner Shadab Khan appeals for a wicket during the Asia Cup match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday. (Photos by M. Sajjad)
Pakistan spinner Shadab Khan appeals for a wicket during the Asia Cup match at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Friday. (Photos by M. Sajjad)

James Jose

Published: Sat 3 Sep 2022, 12:33 AM

In the end, there was to be no fairytale for Hong Kong. If anything, they learnt some lessons in their short but exciting cricketing journey.

And Pakistan ensured it wouldn’t end up being a tricky one such matches sometimes tend to be.

Pakistan, in previous times, have famously slipped up against such opposition, with a few upsets dotting their landscape. But not this team led by the calm and zen-like Babar Azam.

They came up with a clinical performance and showed the gulf in class, comprehensively defeating Hong Kong by 155 runs in Sharjah to seal their Super Four berth and set up a sequel with fierce rivals India in the DP World Asia Cup.

After opener Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhar Zaman and Khushdil Shah had starred with the bat to help Pakistan rack up an imposing 193 for two, the Pakistan bowling attack, led by spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz wrapped things up by having Hong Kong shot out for 38 in 10.4 overs, in the final Group A fixture at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Leg spinner Shadab snapped up four wickets, including two wickets in one over, while left-arm spinner Nawaz picked up three wickets, including two in one over. Young pacer Naseem Shah took two wickets.

It was the second biggest margin of victory by runs in T20Is by full members with the highest being Sri Lanka’s 172-run win over Kenya in Johannesburg in 2007.

It was also Hong Kong’s lowest total in the format with the previous lowest being 69 against Nepal at Chattogram in 2014 followed by 87-9 against Uganda in Bulawayo this year as well as 87 against Oman in Abu Dhabi in 2017.

This was also the lowest T20I total against Pakistan with the previous being 60 by the West Indies in Karachi in 2018.

Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot
Mohammad Rizwan plays a shot

Earlier, Rizwan top-scored for Pakistan to help them post 193-2. The wicketkeeper batsman conjured an unbeaten 78 from 57 deliveries that was studded with six boundaries and a six.

Zaman made an equally sublime 53 from 41 balls with the help of three fours and two sixes. The pair were also involved in a century partnership with the duo adding 116 from 81 deliveries for the second wicket.

Khushdil Shah came up with a neat cameo, blitzing a 15-ball 35 where he smoked five sixes, including four in the last over bowled by medium pacer Aizaz Khan. RIzwan and Shah put on an unbroken 64 from 23 balls for the third wicket.

Off-spinner Ehsan Khan took two for 28.

Rizwan, who was named the player of the match, said it was vital to adapt to the different conditions on offer here in Sharjah as compared to Dubai.

"It was most important for us to adjust to the conditions even if it is T20 cricket,” Rizwan said at the post-match presentation.

“The ball was keeping low. We tried hitting, but it wasn't coming off. Then we charged down, keeping in mind the ball was staying low,” he added.

Pakistan fans cheer for their team
Pakistan fans cheer for their team

Rizwan said it was important to stay at the wicket and anchor the innings especially after Azam got out early.

“I believe in hard work. Being a senior player, you have to take responsibility. You have to play according to the team, and there will be pressure,” said Rizwan.

Rizwan also sent out a plea to the people to help those who have been affected by the floods.

"I request everyone to help the people of Pakistan, who are in trouble due to the floods,” he said.

Meanwhile, skipper Azam said the team wanted the top order to bat till the very end.

“It is a very nice victory for us,” said Azam.

“The wicket was keeping low, but the way we batted and finished was outstanding. We want the top-order batters to stay till the end, and the lower ones to bat around them,” he added.

Azam was also pleased with the debuts of young pacers Naseem Shah and Shahnawaz Dahani.

“The way Naseem and Dahani have debuted, they have shown brilliant performances,” Azam said.

Nawaz said they tried to build pressure with dot balls.

“The plan was simple — bowl wicket-to-wicket and bowl on a good length as the ball kept a bit low. We were eyeing a 170 plus score. The fast bowlers started well and the plan of the spinners was simple. We tried to build pressure with dot balls,” said Nawaz.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong captain Nizakat Khan said they had learnt a lot from two of the biggest teams in world cricket.

"There are a lot of learnings from these two games. Credit to Pakistan for the way they played. Shot making, I must admit, was poor. We will take back the professionalism of the two teams,” said Nizakat.

Brief scores:

Pakistan beat Hong Kong by 155 runs

Pakistan 193-2 (Mohammad Rizwan 78 not out, Fakhar Zaman 53, Khushdil Shah 35 not out, Ehsan Khan 2-28)

Hong Kong: 38 all out in 10.4 overs (Shadab Khan 4-8, Mohammad Nawaz 3-5, Naseem Shah 2-7)

Toss: Hong Kong

More news from Cricket