When Team India take to the field to play Hong Kong in their second Asia Cup 2022 match in Dubai on Wednesday, a direct qualification to the Super Four phase will be on their mind.
Hong Kong will be starting their campaign at the event. On the other hand, India is heading into the match with a huge advantage not only because of its star power, but also because they defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in their opening clash by five wickets.
India should not take Hong Kong lightly and keep their previous clash against the side in their mind. India had won by a mere 26 runs after posting 285 runs on the board, the last time these teams locked horns in Asia Cup 2018.
Despite a win, India was tested by Pakistan. Its top order consisting of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli appeared vulnerable once again. They will have to be at their absolute best and this match against an associate team will be their chance to regain their form.
India's middle order consisting of Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya and Deepak Hooda has been reliable for a while now. They will have to keep the consistency going, especially when the top order is not at its best. A lot of attention will be on Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja.
The Indian bowling attack performed superbly against Pakistan in their campaign opener. All ten wickets were taken by pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan. Team India would benefit if the pacers continue to wreak havoc, especially against an associate team that does not face them often and does not know its strengths and weaknesses much.
Spinners like Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi and Ravichandran Ashwin will also have to deliver some key breakthroughs in case things go wrong for pacers.
Hong Kong on the other hand, has a lot to worry about despite putting on an amazing show in the qualifiers. They have not met India that much in international cricket and a lot has changed about Team India since their last meeting back in Asia Cup 2018.
The fact that Hong Kong almost won their previous game against India and was just 26-runs short of the target back then will give a lot of comfort to their side.
Captain Nizakhat Khan, Babar Hayat and vice-captain Kinchit Devang Shah will have to deliver a solid show with the bat. Hong Kong bowlers will also have to deliver and test Team India.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), 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 (Captain), Kinchit Shah (Vice-Captain), Aizaz Khan, Zeeshan Ali, Yasim Murtaza, Haroon Arshad, Ehsan Khan, Ghazanfar Mohammad, Ayush Shukla, Babar Hayat, Aftab Hussain, Scott McKechnie, Ahan Trivedi, Wajid Shah, Waheed Mohammad, Dhananjay Rao, Ateeq Iqbal.