Rohit Sharma was a relieved captain after India registered a tense 26-run victory over Hong Kong in their Asia Cup 2018 opener at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Tuesday (September 18).
Chasing a challenging target of 286 runs, Hong Kong got off to a brilliant start with their openers Nizakat Khan (92) and skipper Anshuman Rath (72) scoring impressive half-centuries. The duo stitched an opening stand of 174 runs to put India on the back foot.
However, after losing the openers, Hong Kong’s middle and lower order fell like a pack of cards. For India, spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and debutant pacer Khaleel Ahmed scalped three wickets each to restrict Hong Kong to 259/8 in 50 overs.
"Eventually to win the game is important. We always knew it wasn't going to be easy. We had an inexperienced bowling line-up, but that's no excuse. The mistake was that we could've attacked a bit more. It's a mistake, and that's a learning curve," Rohit quoted at the post-match presentation.
"They pulled off the victory, and I have no doubt for the future as well. Didn't doubt ourselves at any stage, but credit to Hong Kong. Great partnership by their openers, and for our bowling curve, it was great to handle those situations. We will be put under pressure at times, and it's important to handle it," he added.
Praising the left-armer Khaleel, the stand-in India captain said: "Khaleel is a very exciting player. He showed he didn't start well, but was good enough to come back well. If you can't do well for 2-3 overs it's okay, but you should find a way to come back, and he really found that way, and found his rewards."
Earlier, India rode on Shikhar Dhawan's 14th ODI ton to post 285/7 on the board. Dhawan played a cautious knock of 127 runs from 120 deliveries. His innings was laced with 15 boundaries and two sixes. Ambati Rayudu also played a crucial knock of 60 runs to help India post a dominating total.
India will now take on arch-rivals Pakistan within 24 hours at the same venue
"We know we're playing back-to-back games, but no problem. That's why we rested some players for today," Rohit Sharma concluded.