The two batters shared an unbeaten stand worth 98 from 45 balls. For most of it, Kohli was just an amazed spectator.
His partner’s contribution was a startling 68 not out from just 26 balls, as he savaged the Hong Kong death-overs bowling.
Until Yadav arrived at the crease, the Indian batters had struggled for fluency on a wicket was continue the trend of the tournament for tough scoring.
Out-of-sync opener KL Rahul laboured to 36 from 39 balls. When he went, off the last ball of the 13th over, India were on 94-2.
What followed was a remarkable blitz, as Yadav found all points of Dubai International Stadium. Sixty of his 68 runs came in boundaries.
He took 26 from the last over, bowled by Haroon Arshad, to take India up to 192 from their 20 overs. It proved well beyond Hong Kong, who had beaten UAE last week to earn a place in this event.
“I haven’t practised those strokes before, but when I was younger with my friends, we would play a lot of rubber-ball cricket on cement surfaces,” Yadav said in the break between innings. “So the shots have come from there.”
Hong Kong did rally in reply, albeit with nothing like the vigour they managed when the sides last met in the same competition four years ago.
Back then, India had been visibly flustered as Nizakat Khan and Anshuman Rath put on a vast stand in an ultimately futile run-chase.
Babar Hayat provided some reasons for optimism this time, too, most notably when he struck a glorious straight six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
When he fell at the start of the 12th over for 41, though, it felt as though Hong Kong’s slim chances went with him.
They eventually made it to 152-5 from their 20 overs, but never realistically threatened a shock.
Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of India's players in their defence, as he took 1-15 from his four overs and ran out Nizakat with a direct hit from point.
The 40-run victory confirmed India’s place in the Super 4 stage. Hong Kong have one more chance to create an upset, as they face Pakistan in Sharjah on Friday.
The winners of that game will follow India through to the next phase.