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With all eyes on much anticipated India Pakistan clash in the ongoing Asia Cup 2018, India are set to play against Hong Kong which will act as a dress rehearsal before the marquee fixture. On the other hand, Hong Kong will be hoping to secure a consolation win against the powerful Indian side. The match is set to be played at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on 18th Septemeber. It was ten years ago when the two teams met for the last time where India thumped Hong Kong by a massive margin of 256. Although the Indian team appears to be stronger of the two on paper, they'd not want to take Hong Kong lightly.
Although India's last ODI series didn't result in their favor, they haven't had a bad year by any means. India have played nine One Day Internationals so far in this calendar year and have won six of them. However, Virat Kohli was a key figure in most of the matches India won this year. His absence has although left India's middle-order a little vulnerable, this Indian side is still one of the hot favorites to win the title.
On the true surfaces of Dubai, Indian batting will be primarily dependent upon their openers, who have been superb this year. Rohit Sharma was India's second-best batsman in India's tour of England as he scored 154 runs in three games. KL Rahul marked off the tour with a brilliant century in the last test and he will be looking to carry his form into the Asia Cup. Considering the form he displayed in IPL, MS Dhoni continues to be a vital cog in this lineup and with Kohli absent, the onus will be on to him to take additional responsibility to take India through.
It's India's bowling which has bamboozled one and all in recent times. Jasprit Bumrah is currently ranked as number one bowler in the world and has been a tough bowler to deal with, both in the beginning and the death overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar returns to the Indian side after missing out in the test series and will be itching to get going. Indian spinners wrecked havoc on both English and South African batsmen and dealing with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal is certainly not going to be a walk in the park for the Hong Kong batsmen.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, SN Thakur, YS Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed.
It was a tough first game for Hong Kong against Pakistan and they have no one but themselves to blame for that. Although they'd believe they were unlucky with the umpiring blunders, their inexperience was truly on exhibition when they were out in the middle. Nijakat Khan was the first man to be dismissed who, for no apparent reason, slowed down in an attempt to steal a quick single. Shadab Khan's quick and accurate throw found him short by a good yard.
Anshuman Rath started off slowly and just as he was beginning to look good, he edged an outgoing delivery from Hassan Ali through to the keeper. Babar Hayat, one of their leading run scorers, departed soon as Hong Kong found themselves at 44 for 6 too soon for their liking. Kinchit Shah and Aizaz Khan showed some intent to take them beyond 100, but the total proved to be too little to concern Pakistan.
Unlike their batting, their bowlers showed a lot of character in the middle. They were on the receiving end of the two poor umpiring decisions but still did a good job to hold Pakistan for as long as they did in a small chase. Ehsan Khan dismissed two batsmen and him along with Nadeem will be key players with the ball for Hong Kong on Tuesday.
Nizakat Khan, Anshuman Rath, B Hayat, Christopher Carter, Scott McKechnie, Aizaz Khan, Ehsan Khan, T Afzal, KD Shah, E Nawaz, Nadeem Ahmed.
With surface expected to slow down during the second half of the match, expect the team winning the toss to bat first.
As witnessed in the first three games of the competition, it's been rather difficult to score once the ball gets older. Also, such has been the impact of Dubai's heat, the surface, too, has slowed down. Spinners have played a vital role with the older ball and it is expected to be the same in the upcoming match as well. Chasing anything over 250 will need a good effort from the batsmen in the upcoming match.
The Men in Blue are all set to take on Hong Kong in their opening game of Asia Cup 2018 where they'd like to iron out the blemishes before their much-anticipated clash against Pakistan. Even without Virat Kohli, the Indian batting lineup appears to be intimidating and will be tough to bowl to for Hong Kong bowlers. Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah have been tough to handle for all the teams that have faced India in the recent times, and Hong Kong would do extremely well to see them off. Considering the team on paper and form, India go in as firm favorites in their first Asia Cup encounter.