Usman Khan took three wickets before opener Imam-ul-Haq hit an unbeaten fifty as Pakistan notched up a dominating eight-wicket win over minnows Hong Kong in a group A match of the Asia Cup ODI tournament in Dubai on Sunday.
Electing to bat, Hong Kong folded for a paltry 116 in 37.1 overs, courtesy Usman’s 3 for 19 and two-wicket hauls by Shadab Khan (2/31) and Hasan Ali (2/19).
Pakistan then returned to overhaul the target, scoring 120 for 2 in 23.4 overs, built mainly around opener Imam’s 69-ball unbeaten 50 that was laced with three fours and a six.
Chasing 117 to win, Pakistan made a good start with Imam and Fakhar Zaman sharing a 41-run partnership in 8 overs for the opening wicket.
Pakistan lost their first wicket when Fakhar was caught by McKechnie off Ehsan Khan’s ball in the 9th over.
Imam and new man Babar then added 52 runs to take the team close to the target.
Babar hit three fours and a six in his 36-ball 33 before being caught behind by Mckechnie for Ehsan’s second wicket.
Shoaib Malik (9) hit the winning runs, blasting Aizaz for a boundary in the 24th over.
Earlier, seamer Usman (3/19) emerged as the highest wicket-taker, while Shadab Khan (2/31) and Hasan Ali (2/19) also snapped two wickets and Faheem Ashraf accounted for one as Pakistan thoroughly exposed the weakness of Hong Kong, who won the 2018 Asia Cup Qualifier to make it to the tournament.
Kinchit Shah (26) and Aizaz Khan (27) were the top-scorer for Hong Kong, while skipper Anshuman Rath contributed 19 as Hong Kong couldn’t negotiate the top quality bowling from Pakistan.
Electing to bat, Hong Kong couldn’t put up a resistance, losing wickets in regular intervals to end up with a lowly score.
It started with a run-out as Nizakat Khan (13) walked back to the pavillion after failing to make ground with Shadab Khan knocking the stumps off from point in the 5th over.
Skipper Anshuman Rath (19) was the next to go when he was caught behind by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed off Faheem Ashraf as Hong Kong slipped to 32 for 2 in the ninth over.
Hasan Ali then got into action, removing Christopher Carter (2) cheaply in the 14th over. Looking to chip it over extra cover, Carter ended up giving an easy catch to Imam-ul-Haq as Hong Kong lost their third wicket.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan then struck twice in three balls — dimissing Babar Hayat (7) and Ehsan Khan (0) — as Hong Kong lost half their side in 16.3 overs.
Hayat couldn’t pick up Shadab’s googly and was stumped by a huge margin by Sarfraz when the batsman danced down the pitch. One ball later, another googly earned Shadab another wicket as Ehsan was trapped infront of wicket.
Kinchit Shah () and Aizaz Khan (27) then shared a crucial 53-run partnership for the sixth wicket to take Hong Kong closs to the 100-mark.
In the 31st over, Usman Khan picked up three wickets in five deliveries, removing Aizaz, SS Mckechnie (0) and Tanwir Afzal (0), to further reduce Hong Kong to 97 for 8.
Last specialist batsman Kinchit too was back to the hut after he hit a Hasan Ali ball to Shadab at backward point.
Ehsan Nawaz (9) and Nadeem Ahmed then took Hong Kong across the 100-mark before the former was runout as Hong Kong was bundled out.