India take on minnows HK in Asia Cup opener

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Karachi: India would like to start their Asia Cup campaign on a perfect note when they take on the ACC qualifiers Hong Kong in their Group-B tie at the National Stadium here on Wednesday.

The task should not be even close to difficult for Mahendra Singh Dhoni's boys and not many would put their money on the inexperienced Hong Kong side.

Going by the skipper Dhoni and coach Kirsten's words India would not look to get complacent and use the opportunity to get ideal practice for their group match against Pakistan on Thursday.

All-rounder Irfan Pathan, who has a side strain, will get the much needed rest but that shouldn't be a worrying factor for India as they already have the attck to dismantle Hong Kong.

After the loss to Pakistan in the tri-national final in Bangladesh earlier this month, Dhoni had rued to the fact that he did not come up the order ahead of Suresh Raina and the Indian captain would prefer not to repeat his mistake again in the Asia Cup.

Kirsten admitted that no team can be taken lightly and said his wards will not be complacent against any opposition in the tournament.

''We will take every match and opposition very seriously in the tournament and will do every bit that we need to do as this is Asia Cup. I am also looking for some huge contributions from my players,'' Kirsten said.

In the last few years, India has had a great record in Pakistan but captain Dhoni is not too keen to rest his laurels on past records and said his team would prefer to get on board with a convincing win.

''We will start our script from scratch in this tournament. We are not going to take any team lightly,'' Dhoni said.

''I am happy with the team combination. I feel it is a good opportunity for the aspiring youngsters in such a big tournament. It is also a challenge for seasoned players to perform in it,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong captain Tabarak Dar believes his team is good enough to make a mark in the international arena and Asia Cup would provide them the opportunity.

''Even though our task is very tough, we are pretty optimistic of putting up a good show here because the stage is set for our lads to prove everyone where we stand in international cricket,'' Dar said.

Hong Kong lost both their matches in the last Asia Cup and are pinning their hopes on left-arm spinner Nadeem Ahmed, who had Pak in a spot of bother at 167/7 in the middle overs with his wiles and giles. He returned with the creditable figures of 4/51.

It would be interesting to see how India take up the challenge especially, considering that all the three Asian giants - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - have an uncanny knack of going down to weak teams every now and then.


India: Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt, wk), Yousuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Manpreet Gony and RP Singh.

Hong Kong: Tabarak Dar (capt), Courtney Kruger, Afzaal Haider, Hussain Butt, Najeeb Amar, Sakhawat Ali, Zain Abbas, Nadeem Ahmed, Irfan Ahmed, James Atkinson (wk) and Munir Dar.


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