There wasn't anything different on view on Wednesday from the previous day. Except that the crowd had thinned further, the contest looked even more one-sided, and it was India in place of Pakistan giving Hong Kong lessons in the game.
The minnows, unfortunately, had to learn the lessons the hard way, for India came down hard on them, plundering 374 runs for the loss of four wickets and then strangled their run chase for a mere 118 to bring up a massive 256-run victory.
The writing was on the wall for Hong Kong after India piled up the mountain of runs. Hong Kong skipper Tabarak Dar and J.J. Atkinson offered some resistance after an early setback, but Piyush Chawla ended the resistance with a four-wicket haul.
Earlier, India flexed their batting muscle, with Suresh Raina and Mahendra Singh Dhoni showing the way with sizzling centuries. The tenor was, however, set by the openers, especially Virender Sehwag. The Delhi marauder took on the Hong Kong bowlers right from the start. Before they could sense what was in store, the right-hander was busy dispatching them to every corner of the stadium. Before one could even settle down, Dhoni was waving his bat, acknowledging the faint applause for his scorching half-century, coming off just 27 balls, studded with seven boundaries and two sixes.
He was happily heading towards an almost certain century when Hong Kong managed to induce a false stroke from him to cut short his ferocious assault at 78. In the meantime, Gautam Gambhir, too, had helped himself to a half-century.
The fall of Sehwag, as it always does, brought the much-needed respite for Hong Kong and the subsequent quick fall of Gambhir and Rohit Sharma further lifted the spirits of the minnows.
Dhoni proved true to his word and walked in at two down. The team management also kept its word on adopting a rotation policy --- Yuvraj Singh and Ishant Sharma making way for Robin Uthappa and debutant Manpreet Gony.
The duo of Dhoni and Raina refrained from going after the bowlers at the start, preferring to stay put and gather runs at a decent pace.
But when they finally cut loose, there was no stopping them. Raina, in particular, unleashed a ferocious assault, matching the one let loose by Sehwag, leaving the bowlers and fielders scampering for cover. Such was his pace that he brought up his maiden century in just 66 balls – the second fastest century by an Indian. The knock was embellished with seven boundaries and five sixes. It wasn't long before the Indian skipper too brought up a well-deserved century.
India’s highest Asia Cup score
Gambhir c Lamsam b Amar 51
Sehwag c Irfan b Amar 78
Rohit run out 11
Dhoni not out 109
Raina c Irfan b Haider 101
Uthappa not out 15
Extras (b-6, lb-1, w-2) 9
Total (for 4 wkts; 50 overs) 374
Fall of wkts: 1-127, 2-136, 3-159, 4-325
Bowling: Haider 6-0-72-1, Irfan Ahmed 6-0-53-0, Lamsam 2-0-27-0, Nadeem Ahmed 8-0-52-0, Amar 10-0-40-2, Dar 10-0-55-0, Skhawat 8-0-68-0
Dar st Dhoni b Chawla 21
Ali lbw b Singh 0
Atkinson c and b Pathan 23
Hussain st Dhoni b Chawla 4
Kruger st Dhoni b Chawla 3
Irfan Ahmed run out 25
Lamsam run out 16
Moner Ahmed c Pathan b Chawla 4
Amar not out 13
Haider b Sehwag 0
Nadeem Ahmed c Dhoni b Sehwag 0
Extras: (2lb, 7w) 9
Total (in 36.5 overs) 118
Fall of wkts: 1-4, 2-49, 3-54, 4-54, 5-67, 6-91, 7-99, 8-109, 9-118
Bowling: Praveen 5-0-21-0, R.P. 4-0-19-1, Gony 5-1-11-0, Chawla 10-2-23-4, Yusuf Pathan 10-0-37-1, Sehwag 2.5-0-5-2.