Hong Kong crash to heavy defeat
Hong Kong's second Asia Cup campaign came crashing to an end today with a heavy defeat at the hands of India.
India won the toss and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni wasted little time in electing to bat first against the weakest team in the tournament. Openers Guatam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag then batted at a Twenty20 like pace putting on 127 before Sehwag fell in the 15th over for 78, scored from just 44 balls.
The scoring slowed a little one Sehwag had gone, and Gambhir was dismissed four overs later for 51. Rohit Sharma will have been disappointed to be run out for 11 at the halfway point of the innings, with the score on 159/3.
By this time captain Dhoni was at the crease with Suresh Raina, and it was those two who took the game way beyond Hong Kong. They put on 166 for the fourth wicket before Raina fell shortly after making his century - 101 from 68 balls. Dhoni stayed in to reach his century (109), leading his team to a total of 374/4, their third highest ODI total.
The target was well beyond the reach of Hong Kong, especially when Skhawat Ali fell for a duck in the second over. Captain Tabarak Dar and the young wicket-keeper Jamie Atkinson put on a decent 45 run partnership for the second wicket, but once they'd gone, Hong Kong collapsed.
The middle order was bamboozled by the leg-spin of Piyush Chawla who picked up a career best 4/23. Three of those wickets were stumpings by MS Dhoni, who became just the fourth wicket-keeper to pick up three stumpings in an ODI innings on two occasions.
Hong Kong were bowled out for 118 in the 37th over, losing by 256 runs. They will gain little consolation from the knowledge that they avoided the record winning margin of 257, set by India over Bermuda in the World Cup last year.
India now play Pakistan tomorrow in what is a dead rubber match, though India v Pakistan games are always going to be taken seriously. Hong Kong will next be in action in the ACC Elite Trophy in Kuala Lumpur next month, where they will hope to again reach the final to qualify for the 2010 Asia Cup.