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4.6 overs (1 Run) Aerial but wide of the fielder. Fuller in length and on off, holding up a touch, Virat Kohli leans across to flick but closes the face of his bat early. It loops behind the bowler and falls just wide of the mid on fielder. He dives to make a half-stop and the batters cross.
Virat Kohli walks in at number 3.
4.5 overs (0 Run) OUT! CAUGHT! Rohit falls and Ayush Shukla is ecstatic. After getting hit for a boundary, Ayush goes short with his length and delivers it outside off. It’s on the slower side and Rohit Sharma rocks back to power it across the line. The ball though skids on and hurries onto his bat and Sharma mistimes his shot in the air towards mid on. Aizaz Khan runs forward and completes the catch much to the delight of the young bowler. It’s a big moment for Ayush Shukla.
4.4 overs (4 Runs) FOUR! Fine shot! Full in length and around middle and off, Rohit steps back to make room and smashes it over the bowler’s head for a boundary.
4.3 overs (1 Run) Shorter and around off, KL gets back and guides it down to third man for a run.
4.2 overs (0 Run) Serves it on a length and around off, Rahul pushes it on the up and it goes towards the covers. Maybe, this one held up a bit off the surface.
4.1 overs (0 Run) Shukla bowls short and outside off, Rahul goes back and cuts but finds the fielder at cover-point.
Ayush Shukla (1-0-1-0) switches ends now.
3.6 overs (0 Run) Oohhh… a risky attempt from Rohit. Fuller and quicker on middle, Sharma goes down and at the last moment, he connects with his sweep shot. It goes to short fine leg. Had he missed, he was an lbw candidate.
3.5 overs (2 Runs) Straighter in line, Rohit hangs on the back foot and eases it through square leg for a couple of runs.
3.4 overs (0 Run) Ehsan Khan continues to fire it in, short and around off, Sharma hits it towards mid-wicket.
3.3 overs (1 Run) Fires it in, short and on off, Rahul moves back and forces it through extra cover. The mid off fielder makes the stop to his left and they cross again.
3.2 overs (1 Run) Flatter through the air, a touch short and on off, Rohit goes back and punches it past the diving bowler, towards long on. They cross.
3.1 overs (1 Run) Quicker and fuller, around off, it’s pushed down to wide mid off for a single.
Ehsan Khan comes in as first change.
2.6 overs (4 Runs) FOUR! Timing combined with placement from Rohit Sharma. Shortish delivery, outside off, Sharma stays back and crunches it through extra cover for a boundary. 22 from the over, the shackles are broken.
2.5 overs (1 Run) A low full toss, angling down the leg side, KL helps it through square leg for a single.
2.4 overs (6 Runs) SIX! Put away handsomely! Slightly short and close to off, Rahul rocks on the back foot and smokes it over mid-wicket for a maximum.
2.4 overs (1 Run) Whoa! That’s a wild delivery. A high full toss going outside the pitch. No ball called. Free Hit to continue…
2.4 overs (3 Runs) A half-volley on the pads, Rahul clips it through backward square leg for a couple. The siren goes off. Haroon Arshad has overstepped. Free Hit coming up…
2.3 overs (1 Run) Soft hands this time. Sharma turns it wide of mid-wicket and picks up a single.
2.2 overs (0 Run) Angles in a length ball on off, Sharma stays back this time and works it on the leg side, finds mid-wicket.
2.1 overs (6 Runs) SIX! Dismissed! Enough of sighters, says Rohit Sharma. A length delivery around off, Sharma gives the charge and powers it over long on for a biggie.
1.6 overs (0 Run) Takes the pace off this one and lands it full and outside off at 128 kph, Rahul plays a mistimed drive back towards the bowler. A good start from Ayush as well.
1.5 overs (0 Run) On a length and outside off, Rahul pushes it from the back foot to cover-point again.
1.4 overs (0 Run) Good timing on this shot but the placement is missing. Back of a length, around off, KL stands back and punches it straight to cover-point.
1.3 overs (0 Run) Lands it on a length and outside off, slower in pace, Rahul goes on the back foot and pushes it without any timing to mid off.
1.2 overs (0 Run) Pitches it up and around off, Rahul gets on the front foot and pushes it defensively to covers.
Third man goes back. Point comes in.
1.1 overs (1 Run) Starts with a short delivery, outside off, Rohit goes on the back foot and punches it to sweeper cover. There is a fielder in the deep already and hence only a run.
Ayush Shukla to bowl from the opposite end.
0.6 over (1 Run) Too full in length and around leg, Rohit leans across and flicks it to deep mid-wicket for a single. Decent start from Hong Kong but they should be looking to attack more in the initial stage, at least.
0.5 over (1 Run) Serves it on a good length around off, Rahul goes back and nudges it towards short fine leg for a run.
0.4 over (1 Run) Movement in the air and off the pitch this time. Around middle, on a length and shaping in, Sharma flicks it through square leg for a run.
0.3 over (1 Run) Rahul opens his account. This one is on a good length and near the off stump line, KL plays late and runs it down to third man for one.
0.2 over (0 Run) A touch short in length this time, outside off, Rahul goes on the back foot and punches it with good timing, however, it goes straight to the fielder at covers.
0.2 over (1 Run) Wide! Wrong line on this occasion and India are off the mark with this extra. Arshad delivers a length ball down the leg side, KL tries to flick but misses.
0.1 over (0 Run) Starts well, right on the money. It’s on a length and close to off, KL Rahul gets behind the line and defends it back. It’s a good feeling to middle the ball after what happened with KL in the last game.
Done with the pre-game formalities and it’s now time to get the game underway. The umpires are out in the middle and the players of Hong Kong can be seen in a huddle with their skipper giving them a final few words of wisdom. The Indian opening pair of Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul stride out to the middle as well. Haroon Arshad has been handed the new ball and he is ready to steam in. Let’s play…
We are minutes away from the start of play! But before that, the two sets of players line up for their respective national anthems. It will be Hong Kong’s national anthem first followed by the national anthem of India.
Dinesh Karthik comes up for a chat! India’s ‘new finisher’ says that it was a fabulous game of cricket last time around and they were lucky to have Hardik on their side. Shares that he had a chat towards the end with Hardik Pandya about his plan and Hardik was confident. Adds that a bit of communication is always useful and it is about what the team requires and the clarity was good. On his new role in the team, DK replies that one of the key aspects is doubting yourself a bit less and it is important to stay level-headed and right from ball one you need to be aware of the situation as the stakes are high.
Hong Kong (Playing XI) – Nizakat Khan (C), Yasim Murtaza, Babar Hayat, Kinchit Shah, Aizaz Khan, Scott McKechnie (WK), Zeeshan Ali, Haroon Arshad, Ehsan Khan, Ayush Shukla, Mohammad Ghazanfar.
India (Playing XI) – Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (WK) (In for Hardik Pandya), Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh.
Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain, says that they were looking to bowl first but it’s a good pitch with an even covering on grass. feels that they need to bat well to reach a good score. Mentions that they want to continue doing what they want to as a team, regardless of the opposition. Wants to do the basics right and informs us that they have one change – Hardik Pandya is rested and Rishabh Pant replaces him.
Nizakat Khan, the captain of Hong Kong, says that they will have a bowl first because in Oman they were good at chasing. Adds that last time against India it was a good game and they hope to continue the same and will try to rectify their mistakes from the last time they played India. Informs that they have the same team that played in the last qualifier.
Toss – Rohit Sharma and Nizakat Khan are in the middle. Up goes the coin and it falls in favour of the latter. HONG KONG ELECT TO BOWL FIRST!