Asia Cup 2022 – IND vs HK

Kohli and Suryakumar scored contrasting half-centuries in an unbroken partnership of 98 off 42 balls for the third wicket. And only after Suryakumar came in with seven overs to go, India was able to accelerate and place a total of 192 for 2 in Dubai.

“SKY played an excellent knock, a knock that I thoroughly enjoyed from the other side,” Kohli said during a conversation with Suryakumar for “I’ve seen so many innings when we play in the IPL…” [against each other], or if that is done in other teams, but this was my first experience of looking very closely. I was completely blown away. I truly believe that the way you played today, if you can stay in that zone, it can literally change the complexion of the game against any team in the world.”

India’s innings was a story of two halves. In the first, KL Rahul scored just 36 out of 39 balls, his slowest T20I innings in which he has had at least 30 deliveries, and while Kohli wasn’t that rusty, he had to fight hard for his runs.

Kohli was at 33 when Suryakumar joined him in the middle and swept his first two balls to the deep square leg boundary. He hit four fours and a six in his first ten deliveries to set the tone for a masterclass in 360-degree batting.

“When I was inside, me and Rishabh . were [Pant] We talked about how we could move the game forward as the wicket was a bit slow,” said Suryakumar. “When I got into the fight, I just tried to be myself and do what I like to do. It was a very simple plan: I took the first 10 balls and wanted to hit three to four boundaries and when I got that I just kept hitting.”

“I truly believe that the way you played today, if you can stay in that zone, it can literally change the complexion of the game against any team in the world.”

Virat Kohlic in honor of Suryakumar Yadav

Suryakumar played scoops, sweeps, flicks and hit two stunning sixes to the point of taking his half-century to just 22 balls – his fastest in T20 internationals. He skipped four sixes in the latter and went undefeated on 68 from 26 balls, while Kohli was on 59 from 44. India scored 78 from the last five overs.

“At that moment I knew I needed you there,” Suryakumar said to Kohli. “That’s why I told you just hit from one end, it will be easy to hide because I’ve seen you many times, when you take 30-35 balls, the next 10 balls you hit with a strike rate of 200 -250. It was important to me that you stayed there so I could bat freely until the 20th over. And the same thing happened. I really enjoyed it.”

After returning from a 42-day break, Kohli reiterated how “mentally fresh” he felt at the time. He had returned with an inning of 35 off 34 balls against Pakistan, and while his half-century against Hong Kong wasn’t the smoothest turn, Kohli was able to accelerate at the end.

“My plan was simple, just like in the last game,” Kohli said. “I’ve had a decent break, a month and a half. Six weeks is a long time, especially at an international level when you lose sight of the game, but I came mentally fresh. So I had a really good time in the last game also, against a quality attack. I got a bit of wicket pace, but I knew my job was to stabilize the innings and build a partnership with whoever I play. And in between, when the situation allows me, take a risk and push the limit every now and then.

“But again, if you… [Suryakumar] came in I told you I would continue, but the moment you started and gave me a clear indication of how you feel, my role immediately changed to holding on to one side. As you said, you could utter almost any ball. That’s something I love to do so even if god forbid you didn’t get those runs I could take charge or we’ve got Rishabh [Pant] or in another game Hardik [Pandya]Dinesh [Karthik] or [Ravindra Jadeja] jaddu.

“It was just applying the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years to the benefit of the team. It was nice to play a few matches where I felt good with my batting. For me, milestones and the number of runs is irrelevant, it’s how you feel when you bat, and I felt really good.”

With wins in both matches, India is the first team from Group A to qualify for the Super 4 stage of the Asian Cup.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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