KL Rahul couldn’t have asked for an easier opponent to regain his rhythm as a vibrant India gears up to steamroll the minnows of Hong Kong in their second and final Asian Cup group stage match on Wednesday. The Group A match will be nothing more than a glorified netting session for Rohit Sharma’s men against a team made up mostly of Pakistani and Indian expatriates, who are otherwise not good enough to play first-class cricket in either of the two countries.
After a hard-earned win over Pakistan in a final over-thriller written by Hardik Pandya, the focus against Hong Kong will be on batters and their adequate playing time.
Rahul, whose first T20I in 2022 was against Pakistan last night, would want to come forward with all weapons and could take this opportunity to try an alternative batting approach at the outset, compared to his style at the IPL.
In T20Is, teams go for impact performance and often a 20 ball 45 is of greater value than a 90 non-out 65 balls.
The quality of an innings and its importance in the larger context of the game is more important at this stage as India gears up for the T2O World Cup to be hosted by Australia from October 16 to November 13.
Obviously the quality of bowling in Hong Kong, to put it politely, does not match that of Pakistan, but there is always a fear of not knowing exactly what to expect from an unknown entity.
That’s why it’s important that Rahul takes full advantage of this opportunity to gain his confidence before the start of the Super Fours and the business end of the tournament.
Skipper Rohit has made it clear that the experimentation will continue and so it shouldn’t be a surprise if there is another batting order to try on Wednesday.
For Virat Kohli, the Hong Kong match will be all about another good strike time in the middle against an attack who is sure to feel intimidated by his sheer presence in the middle.
Even Rohit, after a subdued game against Pakistan, would like to put a few in the stands.
It would be interesting to see if Ravindra Jadeja is sent number 4 against Hong Kong or if Rishabh Pant is tried instead of Dinesh Karthik just to give him some playing time.
While India’s highest order went back to its old security approach against Pakistan, it had a lot to do with the quality of the attack it showed, even without Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Perhaps one can safely judge whether India’s total attack game can work in power play or not, only when they play against attacks that have more depth than England, West Indies or Sri Lanka.
So the real judge of the attacking mentality of the batting order will only be proved against sides like Australia, Pakistan, South Africa and New Zealand.
Games like Hong Kong help improve stats and no player likes to sit outside.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi were also able to take a look so Yuzvendra Chahal and Jadeja could cool their heels a bit.
Teams (out): India: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan.
Hong Kong: Nizakat Khan (c), Kinchit Shah, Aftab Hussain, Aizaz Khan, Ateeq Iqbal, Babar Hayat, Dhananjay Rao, Ehsan Khan, Haroon Arshad, Scott McKechnie, Ghazanfar Mohammad, Mohammad Waheed, Ayush Shukla, Ahan Trivedi, Wajid Shah , Yasim Murtaza, Zeeshan Ali.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)