India eye winning start to Asia Cup defence

Match details

September 18, Tuesday; 17:00 IST
Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar

The main picture

The challenge for India, when they begin their defence of the Asia Cup on Tuesday against Hong Kong, is unlikely to come from their opponent. Instead, India’s challenge will be more within and about how they fight complacency and the hot weather in Dubai, where the forecast says that the temperature will be above 40 degree Celsius.

Hong Kong deserve to be rubbing shoulders with the big boys of world cricket, but playing against India and Pakistan is a massive step-up from what they are used to. The eight-wicket defeat to Pakistan on Sunday provided evidence of Hong Kong’s shortcomings.

From India’s perspective, they will not want to stretch themselves much, given that they will be playing against Pakistan the next day (Wednesday, September 19). Tactically, therefore, they will likely want to bowl first if Rohit Sharma wins the toss, giving themselves the best chance of wrapping the match up quickly.

Hong Kong too, much like India, face the challenge within, which is to perform better than in their opening match. In the batting department, much will be expected of the 20-year-old Anshuman Rath, the captain and who has played for Middlesex 2nd XI, and Babar Hayat, who scored a century against UAE in the Asia Cup Qualifiers and accumulated close to 150 runs in six innings in the Global T20 Canada in June. Nadeem Ahmed, Ehsan Khan and Tanwir Afzal are the key bowlers for Hong Kong.

Dubai Cricket Stadium pitch report and weather forecast

Teams batting second have a better win percentage (61.11) than teams batting first in day-night matches (18) played at the Dubai Cricket Stadium, suggesting that the pitch gets better for batting after sunset. Generally speaking, however, the pitch here is a good one to bat on, with spinners likely to find more assistance than the seamers.

The weather forecast says that the temperature in the evening will be 35 degree Celsius, but the temperature at night will be a more pleasant 32 degrees.

India vs Hong Kong head to head in ODI

The only time India and Hong Kong have played each other so far was at the Asia Cup 2008, which was held in Pakistan. On that occasion, India won by a whopping 256 runs having batted first and posted 374 runs.

India vs Hong Kong playing XI

With those who played the Test series in England set to join India’s Asia Cup squad only on Sunday night, India might not field their first-choice XI against Hong Kong.

Possible India playing 11 vs Hong Kong: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan/Ambati Rayudu, 3 KL Rahul/Manish Pandey, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal

Hong Kong may retain the same playing XI from the match against Pakistan.

Likely Hong Kong playing 11 vs India: 1 Anshuman Rath (c), 2 Nizakat Khan, 3 Babar Hayat, 4 Christopher Carter, 5 Kinchit Shah, 6 Ehsan Khan, 7 Aizaz Khan, 8 Scott McKechnie, 9 Tanwir Afzal, 10 Ehsan Nawaz, 11 Nadeem Ahmed

Match prediction

Hong Kong will have to play out of their skins to compete against a strong Indian side, whose quality and greater experience should, however, help them win. If India win, they will qualify for the Super Four from Group A, along with Pakistan.

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