What was expected to be a rather one-sided affair turned into quite a close encounter as Hong Kong's openers took the attack to the Indian bowlers and stitched together a 174-run opening partnership. With India scoring way below what they would have liked in the final ten overs, a target of 286 appeared to be in Hong Kong's reach until one wicket brought many and tilted the game firmly in India's direction. Earlier a Shikhar Dhawan special and some support from Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav took India to 285, a winning total, even if by a small margin in the end. Here we bring to you the report card of Indian players from their first Asia Cup 2018 match.
Shikhar Dhawan - 10/10
With conditions way better than in England for batting, Dhawan resumed bullying attacks with his 14th ODI hundred. The southpaw looked largely untroubled in his stay at the crease and combined in telling partnerships with Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik. While his usual belligerence wasn't on display, Dhawan's knock helped India overcome a no-show from their middle-order.
Rohit Sharma - 3/10
With conditions aligned in his favour, Rohit Sharma failed to make most out of an ordinary bowling attack. He took his time settling in, making 23 at nearly run a ball before going for a wild slog off Ehsan Khan that found the top-edge and rested safely in the hands of the fielder. The horrendous shot took some focus away from his upcoming battle against Mohammad Amir.
Ambati Rayudu - 8/10
While the scorecard shows Rayudu as the second-highest run-scorer in the Indian innings, the new experiment at No 3 failed as the batsman couldn't rotate strike constantly and scored at a leisurely rate of 85.71 on a surface where runs were easy to come by. Rayudu needs to click in this tournament for him to nail down a spot in the World Cup squad and although runs ought to do it, the manner in which they come will also be important. Better quality attacks should test his ability to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Dinesh Karthik - 4/10
A competitor in India's No 4 musical chair, Karthik failed to kick on and give his start more substance against Hong Kong on Tuesday. The wicket-keeper batsman failed to middle much and ambled along to 33 in 38 balls before falling to Kinchit Shah as one of his three victims. Karthik, like Rayudu, needs to fire in this tournament to stay ahead of Rishabh Pant in the race for the back-up wicket-keeper spot at the World Cup.
MS Dhoni - 1/10
With India looking for a late surge in the final ten overs, their most competent finisher fell for a duck, edging Ehsan's off-break to the keeper while looking to run the ball down to third man. With middle-order issues more prominent than ever, India need Dhoni to step up in the absence of their most prolific run-scorer, Virat Kohli. An off day against Hong Kong shouldn't bother him or the management much but Dhoni will be seen as someone who can take responsibility in the final ten overs from now until after the World Cup.
Kedar Jadhav - 7/10
Among India’s main goals from the Asia Cup would be identifying right personnel for the No 4 and No 6 spot. If one of them can contribute with the ball as well, his chances of making the eleven multiply. Jadhav has shown an ability to choke the run flow and pick wickets with his bowling while ensuring he adds a final flourish to team totals with the bat. In an all-round display, Jadhav added 28 in 27 balls and followed it up with a tidy spell of off-spin. Boundary hitting and strike rates will be of paramount importance from the No 6 spot and Jadhav might need to focus on upping the ante when the team needs him to.
Shardul Thakur - 1/10
The Mumbaikar's ODI record makes for poor viewing. With six wickets in four games prior to this, Thakur hadn't set the world alight and his economy rate was often in focus, especially early on in the spell. With Hong Kong's openers going hammer and tongs, Thakur bore the brunt of their aggression, conceding 41 in four wicketless overs. His chances of making it to the eleven for the bigger clashes suffered a huge setback with Khaleel Ahmed coming good on debut.
Khaleel Ahmed - 10/10
The left-arm seamer was handed a debut in India's opening match of the Asia Cup and lived up to the hype that was built around him. A free-flowing fast bowler with a swift action, Khaleel brought an end to the slaughter from Hong Kong opener, Nizakat Khan. He added two more to his kitty in an impressive debut that should see him start ahead of Thakur against Pakistan.
Yuzvendra Chahal - 9/10
With Hong Kong running away with the game at one stage, Chahal and Kuldeep choked the run-flow with some stingy bowling. The pressure of the required run rate eventually got to the Hong Kong batsmen and the leggie used the chance to wreak more havoc. He sent back the dangerous Babar Hayat and added two more to finish with figures of 3/46. Chahal's tactic of teasing big hitters with wide lines has seen him being used more as an attacking option in the death overs. He ought to be tested more against Pakistan with their batsmen capable of playing spin well.
Kuldeep Yadav - 9/10
India were staring down the barrel at one stage thanks to a 174-run opening stand from Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan but Kuldeep Yadav brought India back into the game with the big wicket of the skipper. The chinaman spinner is known to excel in his first game against teams (his Test debut against Australia and five-wicket haul on his first game against England being cases in point) and Hong Kong wasn't spared either. He also became the joint third fastest to 50 ODI wickets when he dismissed the Hong Kong wicket-keeper.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar - 2/10
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has struggled to take wickets with the new ball in recent times in ODIs which is evident from him taking a wicket once every 61 balls in the powerplays in ODIs since 2017. When conditions aren't aligned in his favour, Bhuvneshwar has struggled in ODIs, a fact that is usually masked by his stupendous spells in T20Is. Against Hong Kong, the Meerut swing bowler once again failed to create much of an impact and went wicketless in a nine-over spell that cost 50. His lack of penetration with the new ball will worry the team management.
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