South Africa’s spinners set up a massive 231 run win over the Netherlands in their Group B encounter at Mohali. The batsmen had made merry in the morning and this big win pushed South Africa to the top of the table. With a big net run rate advantage of 1.893 over their closest rivals India, they are likely to stay there for a while.
The Netherlands won the toss and again decided to field first considering the conditions. Their seamers bowled accurately and troubled the South African openers Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla. Smith tried to play across the line to a Bernard Loots delivery and lost his stumps. Soon Ryan ten Doeschate had Jacques Kallis edge to wicket keeper Wesley Barresi and South Africa slipped to 58/2 in the 16th over.
Amla and the destructive AB De Villiers put on 221 for the third wicket with De Villiers being the more aggressive of the two. Amla showed the rich vein of form he has been in for the past year with some beautiful cut shots, cover drives and leg glances. During the partnership with De Villiers, he struck only three fours but judiciously rotated the strike. De Villiers was aggressive to start with and consolidated with a boundary every now and then.
Amla got to his hundred in the 40th over and the batting Powerplay was taken in the 42nd over. De Villiers simply opened up with a six over fine leg followed by a flowing cover drive. He got to his hundred in the 43rd over. In an over from Loots, he looted three successive sixes – twice over midwicket and one over long on. He wasn’t content with this as three successive fours resulted in the next over. Both the batsmen were dismissed an over of each other.
Duminy then ensured that the efforts of De Villiers and Amla did not go to waste with four sixes of his own – including two in the final over – and the result was a monumental 351/5 for South Africa. It was always going to be a tall order for the Dutchmen.
The Dutch openers started positively against Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel but once Jacques Kallis got Alexei Kervezee and Tom Cooper in the space of 20 runs, the task was even more difficult. The spinners Robin Peterson, Imran Tahir and Duminy combined to pick six wickets as the Dutchmen were bowled out for 120 in the 35th over.
South Africa seems to have no problems whatsoever in either batting or bowling, but have not been tested so far. The match against England this weekend will be a good encounter for them, notwithstanding England’s poor form. The Dutchmen seems to have lost steam after the creditable performance against England.
In Colombo, Canada gave Pakistan a big scare but Shahid Afridi’s bowling ensured there would be no repeat of Ireland’s upset win. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat. Their openers failed again and by the 9th over Pakistan were two wickets down for only 42 runs. That soon became 67/4 as Canada’s bowlers gave a good account of themselves. Misbah-ul-Haq and Umar Akmal then put on a stubborn partnership of 73 runs that took up 20 overs. It was evident they were trying to accelerate later on in the innings. However, both of them got out to the impressive Balaji Rao who got prodigious turn from the pitch.
Once the set batsmen were dismissed, Canada’s bowlers ran though the tail and Pakistan capitulated for a shocking 184 in 43 overs. Harvir Baidwan was the pick of the bowlers with 3/35 with admirable support from Rizwan Cheema, Rao and Jimmy Hansra who all picked two apiece. Another upset loomed on the cards at the innings break.
Canada’s start was shaky with Nitish Kumar and Ruvindu Gunasekara falling inside the 5th over. A partnership of 28 runs between skipper Ashish Bagai and the stubborn Zubin Surkari gave a glimmer of hope before Bagai became Afridi’s first victim. Hansra attacked the bowling knowing that a defensive mindset can be detrimental and together with Surkari guided the score to 104 when all hell broke loose.
Saeed Ajmal, the off spinner, trapped Surkari leg before wicket in the 34th over with a full delivery. Afridi took over from there and had Cheema, Hansra and Baidwan dismissed in quick succession. The game was all but over now and Canada succumbed to 138 in the 43rd over to hand Pakistan a 46 run victory – their third consecutive in the tournament.
Pakistan should now make the quarter finals comfortably. The only worries for them are the form of their openers which puts added pressure on the middle order. Their over reliance on Afridi to pick the wickets should also worry them. Of the 29 wickets that Pakistan has taken in three matches, 14 have gone to Afridi, which is a shade below 50%. Canada will only have themselves to blame after the 4th wicket partnership of 60 runs had placed them in a position to force a win. They did not need a Kevin O’Brien in their line-up, only sensible batting was required.