India made heavy weather of a small target set by Netherlands in their Group B round robin match at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi. Yuvraj Singh, with yet another half century, guided India home in the company of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. With two more points in its kitty, India can look forward to the quarter finals.
The Dutch skipper Peter Borren won the toss and decided to bat first. Eric Szwarczynski was given a first game as an opener and along with the talented Wesley Barresi put on 56 for the first wicket. Szwarczynski was deceived by a Piyush Chawla googly and saw his stumps in disarray. Barresi followed three overs later when he was trapped in front of the stumps by Yuvraj Singh who picked up his 100th wicket in one-day internationals.
Tom Cooper and Ryan ten Doeschate guided their team to 99 before Doeschate decided to loft Yuvraj out of the ground but only succeeded in finding Zaheer Khan who took the catch just in front of the long off boundary. Ashish Nehra, returning to the side after an injury, struck with the first ball of his second over. He got a delivery to move away from the right handed Cooper and the resultant edge was comfortably taken by Dhoni. Bas Zuiderent was trapped leg before wicket by Zaheer Khan in the next over as the Dutchmen lost their grip on the game.
Only Peter Borren’s attacking 38 pushed Netherlands to 189 which was inadequate on a pitch that slowed down in the night. Zaheer Khan finished with 3/20 and Yuvraj with 2/31 as the innings lasted only 46.4 overs. Harbhajan Singh was unable to pick a wicket while Chawla had to be content with the wickets of Szwarczynski and Alexei Kervezee.
Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar began the Indian reply and attacked the bowlers at the very outset. The highlight of Tendulkar’s innings was the three successive fours against Ryan ten Doeschate in the 4th over – two cover drives and an airy shot over mid on. In the process, he became the first batsman ever to score 2000 runs in World Cups. What an achievement for the little master! Sehwag was his usual self and pounded two sixes before he threw his wicket away hitting the ball straight to the fielder at point.
The big hitting Yusuf Pathan started off with a boundary but in an over from Pieter Seelaar the Indians were asking for trouble. First, Tendulkar went for an unnecessary charge and ended up giving a catch to the long off fielder and then Yusuf Pathan slapped the ball back to the bowler who took the catch and set off on a wild celebration. Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli struggled to find the gaps and consequently the runs dried up. A 10 over score of 82/3 grew to only 94/3 by the end of the 14th over.
Kohli perished in the 15th over as a length delivery from Seelaar found the gap between his bat and pad and crashed on to the stumps. At 99/4, Netherlands sensed they could pull off a major upset if they took a couple of wickets more to expose the tail. But Yuvraj and Gambhir put on 40 runs for the fifth wicket in 52 balls as India closed in on the target. Gambhir was unlucky to be bowled off his pads in the 24th over. But Dhoni ensured there would not be any more hiccups as he along with Yuvraj put on an undefeated 52 runs in 80 balls to steer India to victory. The win came in the 37th over when Yuvraj flicked to the boundary at square which also brought up his own 50.
The Netherlands will be proud of their bowlers who put a strong fight to have India in a spot of bother at one stage. Pieter Seelaar will especially be proud of his efforts. If the Dutch batsmen had added 40 more runs on the board at the end of their innings, they would probably have had a better chance. Their batting is a worry now as Ryan ten Doeschate has not been among the runs since that sparkling century against England. They need to ensure that good starts are not wasted as they did today.
India have nothing to talk about as gains from this match. The bowling was not threatening. The seamers shone with the old ball but not with the new. The middle order batting is becoming a bit of worry now with only Yuvraj consistently among the runs. Sehwag had said before the tournament that he would like to stay at the crease for 50 overs. He was at the crease for 47.3 overs in the opening match against Bangladesh but since then, he has failed to last even 10 overs – he lasted only 7.5 overs, 1.1 overs and 7.3 overs respectively against England, Ireland and in today’s match against Netherlands. With two tough matches to follow, it will be very important for Sehwag to stay long, the middle order batsmen to fire and the spinners to come to the party.