Suryakumar Yadav's fireworks in the last seven overs and combined with Virat Kohli's 31st T20I fifty propelled India to reaching a daunting 192/2 against Hong Kong in Asia Cup Group A match at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
At 94/2 in 13 overs, when KL Rahul's struggle ended at 36 off 39 balls, Suryakumar walked in and changed the complexion of India's innings. With his drives, slashes, scoops and sweeps apart from audacious wrist play, he brought out a barrage of boundaries on Hong Kong's bowlers to remain unbeaten on 68 off 26 balls, hitting six fours and as many sixes.
His stroke-play made other batters in the side look as if they were batting on a very different pitch. Suryakumar also shared a 98-run stand off just 42 balls with Kohli, who made 59 in 44 balls, hitting four and three sixes and brought out some shots in the end as India got 78 runs in the last five overs.
For Hong Kong, who did well in keeping India to 70 at the half-way mark and managed to keep Rahul as well as Kohli quiet with their tight lines and lengths on a sticky pitch, they simply had no answers and were clueless in front of Suryakumar and his scintillating stroke play after electing to bowl first.
After a watchful start, Rohit Sharma broke the shackles by dancing down the pitch and smacking a six over Haroon Arshad's head. KL Rahul smashed Arshad for a six over deep square leg on a free hit, before Rohit ended the 22-run over with a boundary punched between point and cover.
With Rahul taking time to find his timing, Rohit continued to be aggressive, launching a boundary over Ayush Shukla's head. But the young pacer had the last laugh as Rohit was late in pulling an off-cutter and took the top-edge to diving mid-on.
Hong Kong bowling at slower pace, mainly bowling on back of length and impressive in their tight lines meant Rahul as well as Kohli were kept quiet for 3.2 overs. Rahul broke the shackles in the ninth over by whipping off wrists for a six over deep mid-wicket off Aizaz Khan.
Kohli finally got his first boundary the 20th ball he faced, dancing down the pitch to smack over Mohammad Ghazanfar's head. While Rahul was not at his fluent best and desperate attempt to reverse sweep twice not working, Kohli brought the fifty stand of the partnership in 7.5 overs with a nice slog-sweep off Ghazanfar.
Rahul's tepid struggle finally ended at 36 off 39 balls when he tried to drag a sweep from a Ghazanfar delivery outside off-stump, but it took an edge behind to wicketkeeper catching on rebound off chest.
Suryakumar got going with back-to-back sweeps through deep square leg region off Murtaza. He then got his third boundary in six balls, sweeping hard past a mis-fielding fine leg off Shukla.
Kohli upped the ante by dancing down the pitch and lofting Aizaz Khan for six over deep mid-wicket while Suryakumar backed away to slash hard over short third man for four and scooped the very next ball over fine leg for six as 20 came off the over.
Suryakumar upped the ante by slamming Shukla for back-to-back fours off Shukla - a slap over cover was followed by a slash past short third man. After surviving lbw and stumping appeals, he brought out an astonishing flick off his toes for a six over deep square leg.
After reaching his fifty in 40 balls, Kohli deposited a six off Ehsan Khan, going down on one leg and picking the ball well to dispatch over deep mid-wicket fence. In the final over, Suryakumar swung his arms for successive sixes over cover off Arshad, second of which got him his fifty in 22 balls.
He was still not done yet, presenting full face of the bat while lofting down the ground for a hat-trick of sixes and got his fourth six of the over by pulling over fine leg to help India reach a total which was a far possibility at the half-way mark.
Brief Scores: India 192/2 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 68 not out, Virat Kohli 59 not out; Mohammad Ghazanfar 1-19, Ayush Shukla 1-29) against Hong Kong