When he came away undefeated with 68 points to his name and Virat Kohli at his side with 59 from 44, he had propelled India to 192/2. In doing so, Surya had put the game way beyond the fiery Hong Kong side who finished with 152/5 after cashing in on both inexperienced Indian bowlers Arshdeep Singh (1/44) and Avesh Khan (1/53). India head coach Rahul Dravid, sporting a particularly unamused look in the dugout, will enter the Super 4s with the same set of unresolved issues.
How it happened
Hong Kong’s terrain and inexperienced bowling didn’t seem conducive to the modern-day T20 slam-bang until Surya hit the strike. Skipper Rohit Sharma’s dismissal for 21 of 13 earlier in the midterm innings was indicative of a double-paced pitch.
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It was one of those days when the scoreboard belied Indian batting intent except for Surya. The first two balls he faced, he swept left arm spinner Yasim Murtaza for the boundaries either side of the long leg. Suddenly the pitch started to look different while he was on strike.
This match was always about oiling the machines. Virat Kohli spent enough time in the middle and got the points under his belt. But if his arduous partnership with Rahul is anything to go by, there was a heavy layer of rust on top.
It was weird until Rahul and Kohli fought together. The game was reduced to a shot in the net to get a sense of the ball. It seemed like spending time in the middle was a bigger priority than moving on. Maybe knowing the Hong Kong batting credentials gave them that freedom.
The duo waited for the balls to absolutely land in their area to go for the big shots. Credit to the bowlers in Hong Kong, they offered very little. In his 44-ball shot, Kohli only found the fence four times. Three of those times he cleared the deep stand in the middle of the wicket. This is proof of being careful.
Surya’s innings showed that it was neither the bowling nor the field. It was because of intention and confidence in his skill that shredded the inexperienced team.
For teams like India, matches like these are meant to flex their muscles as they seem to intimidate beginners. For 13 overs, Hong Kong must have believed he had escaped. Surya moved around the crease on his nimble foot, targeted all parts of the floor and ended up bullying them breaking four of his six sixes in the final medium-paced Haroon Arshad even as Kohli looked content to knock the ball to the ground with a straight bat.
Hopefully the time in the middle has shaken off the rust for Kohli and Rahul. Big teams won’t offer as much time to get into an inning.
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