SHARJAH    -   Pakistan entered the Super Four of the Asia Cup 2022 after a comfortable victory against Hong Kong in Sharjah.

The victory by 155 runs was the biggest margin of victory (by runs) for Pakistan in T20I cricket. Their previous biggest win by runs was against West Indies in 2018 in Karachi, when they won by 143 runs. Hong Kong had a brilliant start to the contest, with Pakistan mean­dering around at 129/2 after 16.1 overs when Fakhar Zaman departed for 53. 

But Khushdil Shah turned the momentum in Pakistan’s favour, with a blistering knock of 35* in only 15 deliveries. His knock included 5 mas­sive sixes. Mohammad Rizwan dropped anchor, scoring 78* off 57 deliveries as Pakistan posted a big score of 193/2 on the board in their 20 overs. 

The Pakistan bowling unit then did the job, as the pace of Naseem Shah and the spin of Shadab Khan proved too hot to handle for Hong Kong. They were bowled out for 38, their lowest total in T20Is. 

Naseem Shah ended with fig­ures of 2/7 in two overs and Shadab with 4/8 in 2.4 overs as Pakistan secured their pas­sage into the Super Four stage of the tournament. A heavy­weight clash against India now awaits on Sunday, in what was a perfect preparation for Paki­stan for the match. 

Sharing his views after the match, Mohammad Rizwan said: “Most important for us was to adjust to the conditions even if it is T20 cricket. The ball was keeping low. We tried hitting, but it wasn’t coming off. Then we charged down, keeping in mind the ball was staying low. 

“I believe in hard work... Be­ing a senior player, you have to take responsibility. You have to play according to the team, and there will be pressure. I request everyone to help the people of Pakistan, who are in trouble due to the floods,” he added. 

Winning team captain Babar Azam said: “Very nice victory for us. The wicket was keeping low, but the way we batted and finished was outstanding. We want the top-orders batters to stay till the end, and the lower ones to bat around them. The way Naseem and Dahani have debuted, they have shown bril­liant performances.”

Hong Kong Captain Nizakat Khan said: “Lots of learnings from these two games. Credit to Pakistan for the way they played. Shot making, I must admit, was poor. We’ll take back the professionalism of the two teams.”