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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Asia Cup: India demolished Honkong in opening match

India launched their Asia Cup campaign in an emphatic manner, routing minnows Hong Kong by 256 runs in their opening Group B match in Karachi on Wednesday.
Electing to bat, India rattled up massive 374 for four, riding on centuries by Suresh Raina (101) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (unbeaten 109), practicing well ahead of clash against arch-rivals and hosts Pakistan on Thursday.
They then bundled out the opponents for a paltry 118 in 36.5 overs to register their second best victory margin, the highest being 257-run win against Bermuda in 2007.
Young leg-spinner Piyush Chawla (4/23) weaved the spin magic, bowling with guile as he forced three stumpings by foxing batsmen with his intriguing line and length apart fro effecting a catch out.
Hong Kong skipper Tabarak Dar (21), James Atkinson (23) and Irfan Ahmed (25) were the main contributors in their side's dismal run-chase.
Left-arm paceman R P Singh drew the first blood in his very first over, trapping Skhawat Ali for a nought, to begin the rot.
Dar and Atkinson then put up a 45-run stand for the second-wicket but once the skipper was dismissed, Hong Kong batsmen lacked confidence in negotiating the Indian attack.
The runs, whatever scored, came at an agonisingly slow pace as the 100 came up only in the 32nd over.
Poor running added to the woes of Hong Kong as lack of understanding resulted in run-outs of Irfan and Roy Lamsam.
Sehwag then closed the Hong Kong innings with two wickets on successive deliveries as he first clean bowled Afzaal Haider and then had Nadeem Ahmed caught behind the wickets, giving Dhoni his fourth victim of the innings.
Earlier, Suresh Raina notched up his maiden one-day century and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni his fourth as India sent minnows Hong Kong on a leather hunt scoring a massive 374 for four.
Raina spearheaded the batting blitz with his scintillating 101-run knock and teamed up with Dhoni (unbeaten 109) to put on 166 from 123 balls, which saw India set the highest total in Asia Cup history.
The 21-year old left hander was in spectacular form, reaching his first fifty from exactly 50 balls and then stepped up the tempo to race to his century from only 16 balls hitting five sixes and three fours in this period.
Raina was extremely harsh on pacer Skhawat Ali who went for three sixes in one over.
Raina fell two balls after smashing pacer Afzaal Haider for a six to reach his hundred and was caught at mid-wicket.
Dhoni touched the three-figure mark after consuming balls and helped himself with with six sixes and five fours to anchor the innings.
India with their strong performance also warmed up in spectacular fashion for their important clash against traditional rivals, Pakistan.
The Hong Kong spinners who had done an admirable job against Pakistan in their first match never recovered from an early blitz from openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir .
The duo put on 127 for the first wicket and plundered runs at will, scoring 95 in first 10 overs.
The two openers brought up the fifty in under six overs and put on a smashing 100 from 65 balls before Sehwag went for a blistering 78 from 44 balls with 13 fours and two big sixes.
He fell to left arm spinner Najeeb Amar, who also dismissed Gambhir after the Delhi player had made a quick 51 from 54 balls.
Rohit Sharma was needlessly run out for 11 runs missing out on a great batting practice opportunity. But Dhoni and the Raina were unstoppable.
Nadeem Ahmed, who took four wickets against Pakistan went wicket less.

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