Hong Kong are out of the Asia Cup 2018 after back-to-back losses to Pakistan and India, but the Associate nation will look back proudly at their second game, the one against six-time winners India, which they had a great chance of winning.
The Anshuman Rath-led side went into the match after an eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Pakistan, their batting had just managed to put up 116 before being bowled out in 37.1 overs.
But against India, Hong Kong fought back, displaying good skills and great spirit.
Hong Kong's highest partnership for any wicket!
2nd highest partnership against India in Asia Cup for any wicket!
Take bow, Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath 👏 #INDvHK #AsiaCup2018 pic.twitter.com/938vraOi6S
— AsianCricketCouncil (@ACCMedia1) September 18, 2018
They first restricted India to a “just over par” score of 285-7, dismissed MS Dhoni for a duck, brought up their first 100-run opening partnership  in ODI cricket, batted their full 50-over quota and came agonisingly close to beating the No.2-ranked ODI side.
They fell just 26 runs short in the end, completing their 50 overs on 259-8. The opening stand between Nizakat Khan (92 from 115 balls) and Rath (73 from 97) was the highlight of Hong Kong’s innings.
“I think today was bitter-sweet,” said Rath after the match. “We really proved to the world what we can do. In saying that, we had India by the horns and really should’ve finished it off, if we are being hard on ourselves, which we should be.
“It was just a confidence thing. You looked at the way we batted against Pakistan. You could tell we were a bit timid, a bit rigid, sort of ‘oh my god, we’re playing Pakistan’.
“When we restricted India to just 280, we knew it was a good batting deck but obviously India has the bowlers, but we knew that 280 was about par. Only just over par, I reckon. We had the batting firepower, we had nothing to lose. So I said ‘game on here’.”
Shikhar Dhawan, who scored a magnificent 127 from 120 at the top of the Indian innings, also praised the opposition’s batting effort, especially that of the openers.
“We didn’t expect that they were going to score a 174-run partnership,” Dhawan said. “But they played well and, of course, we could have been more consistent in our bowling but we have to give credit to their batsmen.
“Both the opening batsmen played really well. The way they played their shots and the way they were calculative about scoring runs, it was good. I have to appreciate their good batting as well.”
The India bowlers got their first breakthrough only in the 35th over. Dhawan admitted that was the key for his side to finish on top.
“We knew that once we get the top-order wickets, we can come back in the game,” said Dhawan. “Obviously, they gave a decent fight and it is always good to learn from every match.
“It’s good that we played this game and built pressure. Tomorrow (against Pakistan) is going to be a big pressure game, so that pressure (against Hong Kong) will actually help tomorrow.”
Watch England in the Caribbean for as little as £1,305 with ST Sports, official tour operator for the Windies’ international home series in 2019