Hong Kong match great learning for our bowlers: Rohit Sharma
India had to wait for 34 overs to pick up the first Hong Kong wicket. (Getty Image)

Rohit Sharma admitted that India’s close 26-run win over Hong Kong was a lesson for his bowling line-up. India, in defence of 286, had to wait for 34 overs before getting the first breakthrough as Hong Kong posted 174 for the opening wicket. Medium pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shardul Thakur were taken for runs, even though debutant Khaleel Ahmed impressed with 3/48 as India saw off a possible scare in the Asia Cup opener.

“Great learning for the bowling group. To handle the situations was important. It was better to have this in the first game of the tournament,” Rohit said during the post-match presentation ceremony. “Not a lot of things went to plan. But to win the game is very important. We always knew it was not going to be easy. We had a pretty inexperienced bowling line up but having said that there are no excuses. We made our mistakes where we could have attacked or we could have defended better.

“This tournament is all about learning. And these guys will learn. But in the end, these guys have done the job in the past. When the going gets tough, you need characters and a couple of the characters did well.”

Openers Nizakat Khan and skipper Anshuman Rath set the platform with a record stand for the opening wicket, one which seemed to blow the wind out of India’s sails. However, the pressure of a steep asking rate, coupled by Hong Kong’s inexperience at the top level allowed the Indian bowlers to chip away with wickets.

“You have to give credit to Hong Kong. They played really well and showed good determination. Great partnership and great batting from those two openers,” said the Indian captain.

The attention now shifts to the mother of all battles, India vs Pakistan on Thursday. If India’s performance against Hong Kong is any indication, Rohit and Co. have a tough task ahead of them. That said, Rohit mentioned it was good to take the few positives from the game. Shikhar Dhawan scored his 14th ODI century and held the innings together. So did Khaleel, who had a good outing in his first match for India.

“Shikhar was a great positive. He had a long tour of England but he came back determined. It was not easy out there. Ambati got a brilliant fifty as well,” Rohit said.

“Khaleel is a very exciting player to have in our squad. Today, he showed that despite not starting well he found a way to come back. And that is what as a captain I need. He stuck to his strength and got his rewards.

“We know we are playing back-to-back matches and that is why we rested a few players considering the amount of cricket we have played. We are looking forward to the game tomorrow.”

Dhawan was named Player of the Match, and the left-hander, coming off an ordinary series against England, said: “I was doing my process and was working hard. I was being patient. I knew that runs were going to come and had the belief in my process. I was not taking extra risk today and was just playing on the merit of the ball. My intent was always positive. They were bowling in the right areas as well. One of their bowlers was not very quick but he landed it in right areas on a pitch where the ball was coming slowly on to the bat.”