When he walked off unbeaten with 68 runs to his name and Virat Kohli by his side with a 59 off 44, he had propelled India to 192/2. In doing so, Surya had put the game well beyond the spirited Hong Kong team who finished with 152/5 having cashed in on India’s two inexperienced bowlers Arshdeep Singh (1/44) and Avesh Khan (1/53). India’s head coach Rahul Dravid, wearing a particularly unamused look in the dugout, will go into the Super 4s with the same set of unresolved issues.
The pitch and Hong Kong’s inexperienced bowling looked non-conducive to the modern-day slam-bang T20 batting till the time Surya took strike. Captain Rohit Sharma’s dismissal for 21 off 13 earlier in the innings at mid-on was indicative of a double-paced pitch.
It was one of those days when the scoreboard belied the intent of the Indian batters, barringSurya. The first two balls he faced, he swept left-arm spinner Yasim Murtaza for boundaries on either side of long-leg. All of a sudden, the pitch started looking different while he was on strike.
This match was always about oiling the machinery. Virat Kohli did get to spend enough time in the middle and got the runs under his belt. But if his arduous partnership with Rahul is anything to go by, there was a heavy layer of rust on the top order.
It was bizarre till the time Rahul and Kohli batted together. The match was reduced to having a knock in the nets to get a feel of the ball. It seemed spending time in the middle was a greater priority than getting a move on. Perhaps, knowing the batting credentials of Hong Kong gave them that liberty.
The duo waited for balls to land absolutely in their zone to go for the big shots. Credit to Hong Kong bowlers, they offered very few. In his 44-ball knock, Kohli found the fence only four times. Three of those times he cleared the deep mid-wicket stand. That’s evidence of being cautious.
Surya’s innings showed it was neither the bowling nor the pitch. It was about the intent and confidence in his skills that shredded the inexperienced team.
For teams like India, matches like these are meant to flex their muscles to the extent where it looks like they are bullying the newbies. For 13 overs, Hong Kong must have believed they got away. Surya moved around the crease on his nimble foot, targeted all parts of the ground and ended up bullying them smashing four out of his six sixes in the last over medium-pacer Haroon Arshad even as Kohli looked content knocking the ball down the ground with a straight bat.
Hopefully, the time spent in the middle has shaken off the rust for Kohli and Rahul. The big teams won’t offer so much time to ease into an innings.