Last time they met: India and Hong Kong’s only encounter
Extraordinarily the narrative fits perfectly to India’s Asia Cup campaign of 2018 and also of 2008, where India faced Hong Kong for the first and only time in the One Day International (ODIs). Today’s (18th September) encounter will be the only second match between the Asian Giants and Asian amateurs after a gap of 10 years.
The 2008 Asia Cup was hosted by Pakistan where five other major cricketing Asian nations participated along with the hosts. UAE and Hong Kong were the two associate nations drawn in different groups consisting Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
India’s first group game was against Hong Kong on 25th June 2008 at the National Stadium, Karachi. On the previous day, Hong Kong lost to Pakistan by 155 runs. India was pitted against Pakistan to complete the group stage on the very next day. Against Hong Kong, Indian captain MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first.
The daunting Delhi pair of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir made their intentions clear with an opening blitz. The duo added the first 100 runs in only 10.5 overs, which became India’s fastest first 100 in ODIs improving their previous record by one ball (11 overs against Bermuda in 2007 World Cup).
Tabarak Dar, Hong Kong’s captain, had to bring his trio of left-arm spinners into the action to stall the run-flow. The move worked as Najeeb Amar removed both Virender Sehwag (78 runs from 44 balls) and Gautam Gambhir (51 runs from 54 balls) to stop India from running away.
The middle-overs which included longer spells from Hong Kong’s left-arm spinners were effective in controlling the Indian batsmen as they could extract only 47 runs in the spell of 15 overs. This also featured Rohit Sharma getting run out thus uniting Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni at the crease.
Suresh Raina, the left-hander, effectively countered the threat of left-arm spin and MS Dhoni with his immense skill of finding gaps kept rotating the scoreboard setting the perfect platform to take off later. At the 40 over mark, India stood at 245/3 with both batsmen past their half-centuries.
The assault began with the short straight boundary being the primary target. MS Dhoni managed deposit two humongous sixes on the roof of the ground while Raina targeted his favourite mid-wicket region. The highlight was 43rd over bowled by Skhawat Ali where Raina smashed three sixes and a boundary to take 25 runs from the over.
Raina then proceeded to complete his maiden ODI century with a six and was dismissed on 101 from 68 balls with seven fours and five sixes. MS Dhoni then took control of the scene and raced away to his hundred taking India to the final score of 374/4 in process. This was tournament’s highest team score before Pakistan went past in the 2010 edition.
The chase was beyond Hong Kong’s ability but they were expected to fight hard and scrape their way to around the total of 180-200. RP Singh opened the gates in the first over with the wicket of Skhawat Ali. Hong Kong batsmen failed to read Piyush Chawla’s flummoxing leg-spin and Sehwag’s off-spin and collapsed to 118 all out.
Debutant Manpreet Gony was unfortunate to miss out on his first wicket due to a dubious umpiring decision but India did pull off a spectacular 256-run win, second-biggest win in ODI cricket.
Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Nadeem Ahmed are the only survivors from the game played ten years ago. The last time India defeated Hong Kong, they went on to defeat Pakistan on the very next day. Indian fans will be hoping for history to repeat itself.