Suryakumar powers India into Asia Cup Super Four
DUBAI (AFP) - Suryakumar Yadav said he has the freedom to attack opposition bowlers after his blazing 68 not out helped India move into the Asia Cup Super Four stage with a comfortable win over Hong Kong.
Suryakumar smashed six sixes in his 26-ball knock, and put on an unbeaten stand of 98 with Virat Kohli, who made 59 not out, to steer India to 192-2 batting first in Dubai.
Hong Kong were limited to 152-5 in reply as India registered their second successive victory to join Afghanistan in the next round of the six-nation event, which acts as a tune-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November.
But it was Suryakumar's blitz that stood out as the number four blasted his way to a 22-ball fifty and finished the innings with four sixes in the final over.
"I feel I have been batting the same way since the last three-four years," Suryakumar, who made his India debut last year after a powerpacked showing in the IPL, told reporters after his team's 40-run win.
"We have a good backing from our captain and the team management that whatever the situation is, you go out and express yourself."
Hong Kong, who made the main draw after winning all three of their matches in the qualifiers in Oman, had largely kept India in check before losing their way once Suryakumar started teeing off.
The 33-year-old Kohli, who is going through an extended batting slump and made 35 in his team's opening win over Pakistan, also got going to complete his 31st half-century in his 101st T20 international.
Kohli's knock though was put in the shade by Suryakumar as Hong Kong conceded 78 runs in the last five overs.
Suryakumar, 31, said batting alongside the experienced Kohli helped him during the knock.
- Kohli's experience -
"I enjoyed batting with him. The plan was absolutely clear, we were talking a lot about what to do in the situation. Experience counts because I haven't played as many T20s as he has played," said Suryakumar.
"My plan was simple and that was to express myself. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn't. Today was lucky for me."
Skipper Rohit Sharma started cautiously before clubbing Hong Kong medium-pace bowler Haroon Arshad for two sixes and a four in a 22-run third over.
Spinner Ehsan Khan slowed the scoring and seamer Ayush Shukla reaped the benefits in the next over as he took down Rohit with a slow off-cutter. He made 21.
Kohli walked in to loud cheers from a sparse Indian crowd but struggled to play freely against a disciplined bowling attack which kept the runs down.
Kohli finally opened up to get a boundary with a straight drive off leg-spinner Mohammad Ghazanfar and soon found some rhythm as he hit three sixes in his 44-ball knock.
KL Rahul and Kohli kept the score ticking with singles and twos with occasional boundaries to put on 56 runs before Ghazanfar broke through with the wicket of Rahul (36).
Left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh struck early for India with the wicket of Yasim Murtaza but Babar Hayat countered with some attacking shots.
Skipper Nizakat Khan fell to a direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja, who then removed Hayat for 41 with his left-arm spin.
Kinchit Shah (30) and Zeeshan Ali (26 not out) also played useful innings to reduce the margin of defeat.
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will battle it out for a Super Four spot from Group B in a winner-takes-all match on Thursday after Afghanistan moved clear with two wins.