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Faisal KAMAL

Pakistan crush Hong Kong by 155 runs to seal Asia Cup Super Four spot

Mohammad Rizwan top-scored for Pakistan with 78 not not out against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup . ©AFP

Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) (AFP) - Mohammad Rizwan propelled Pakistan into the Asia Cup Super Four Stage after their bowlers skittled out minnows Hong Kong for a record low of 38 on Friday.

Pakistan scored 193-2 in a must-win Twenty20 international with Rizwan (78 not out) and Fakhar Zaman (53) putting on 116 after being invited to bat first on a slow and low Sharjah pitch

Pakistan spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz then shared seven wickets to bundle out Hong Kong in 10.4 overs and win by 155 runs.

It was Hong Kong's lowest T20 international total after their 69 against Nepal in 2014 and also their lowest against Pakistan, who had bowled out West Indies for 60 in 2018.

Pakistan join Afghanistan, India and Sri Lanka in round two of the six-nation tournament that acts as a tune-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November in Australia.

Pace bowler Naseem Shah struck twice in the third over of the Hong Kong innings including the wicket of skipper Nizakat Khan for eight.

Hong Kong, who made the main draw by winning all their three matches in the qualifiers, could not recover.

Shadab returned figures of 4-8 from his leg spin and Nawaz took three wickets with his left-arm orthodox.

Earlier, Khushdil Shah hit five sixes including four in the final over to finish with a flourish in his unbeaten 35 off 15 balls as Rizwan watched the blitz from the non-striker's end in a partnership of 64.

Hong Kong's bowlers kept the Pakistan openers in check with a disciplined line and length and spinner Ehsan Khan got the key wicket of skipper Babar Azam for nine in the third over.

Azam hit a four off Ehsan's off spin but the bowler soon took revenge with a caught and bowled to silence a pro-Pakistan crowd.

The left-handed Fakhar joined Rizwan, a wicketkeeper-batsman, and the two rebuilt the innings.

Rizwan reached his fifty off 42 balls to raise the bat amid raucous applause form the crowd.

Fakhar also changed gears and reached his fifty with a towering six off Murtaza's left-arm spin, but got out next over to Ehsan after a 41-ball stay.

Khushdil then tore into the opposition bowling and ended the innings with three successive sixes.

Afghanistan will meet Sri Lanka in the Super Four opener on Saturday in Sharjah while India clash with rivals Pakistan for the second time in the tournament on Sunday.

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