February 25, 2003

Wasim reaches 500 ODI wickets as Pakistan beat the Netherlands

Wasim Akram took 500 one-day wickets as Pakistan completed a comfortable, although hardly convincing, 97-run victory against the Netherlands at Paarl. Wasim, playing in his 354th one-day game, reached his astonishing landmark when opener Nick Statham, beaten by pace and swing, played on to his stumps in the third over of the innings. The left-armer has taken 87 more wickets than the second highest ODI wicket-taker, his teammate and captain Waqar Younis.

Forced to chase 254 for victory despite an energetic and committed performance in the field, the Netherlands were eventually bowled out for 156 in 39.3 overs.

Dan van Bunge top scored for the orange-clad amateurs, mixing determined defence with some enterprising blows as he went onto to score 31 from 60 balls. The right-hander eventually perished after nicking a thin inside edge to Rashid Latif off Abdur Razzaq.

After van Bunge's resistance Hendrik-Jan Mol (13) and Lucas van Troost (22) delayed the inevitable with a stubborn 27 run stand before Shoaib Akhtar was called back into the attack to polish off the tail. The Rawlpindi Express flattened Mol's stumps and then brushed van Troost's outside edge with a short delivery.

Saeed Anwar had an unexpected opportunity to show off his splendid black beard with a short spell of flat left-arm spin, winning an lbw appeal against Jacob-Jan Esmeijer.

Fittingly, though, it was Wasim who wrapped up victory, trapping Jeroen Smits lbw to finish with three for 24 from 8.3 overs.

Earlier, Pakistan were restricted to a moderate 253-run total after a spirited fielding performance by the Netherlands.

Pakistan's top order, short of confidence after poor displays against Australia and England, struggled to assert their superiority against the energetic and disciplined Dutch.

Youshuf Youhana, at least, prevented embarrassment with a run-a-ball half century, only the second fifty by a Pakistani in the tournament. The right-hander top scored with 58 from 59 balls, hitting four boundaries.

There were also contributions from opener Taufeeq Umar (48) and all-rounder Abdur Razzaq (47). Razzaq added 35 runs with Youhana for the fourth wicket before edging a perfectly pitched leg-break from Dan van Bunge into the safe gloves of Jeroen Smits.

Saeed Anwar was the first Pakistani wicket to fall, stroking three unconvincing boundaries before slicing an attempted square drive into the hands of backward point.

Taufeeq Umar, playing ahead of the combustible Shahid Afridi, missed out on his third one-day fifty when he was brilliantly run out for 48. The 21-year-old left-hander called for a suicidal single having played the ball just wide of the bowler, Jacob-Jan Esmeijer, who broke the wicket with an acrobatic flick.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, desperately short of form in the tournament having scored just 10 runs in three games, was then trapped lbw by medium pacer Tim de Leede. The right-hander was unfortunate after television replays showed a think edge.

Saleem Elahi, asked to bat out of place in the middle order, then gifted van Bunge his second wicket by driving a low full toss straight to short cover. Wicket-keeper Rashid Latif added 39 runs with Youhana before being caught off a leading edge as he tried to loft through the leg-side.

Wasim Akram was left fuming with Youhana after being called for a quick single to mid-on and then sent back at the last moment.

Youhana's finally game to an end when he swung across the line and was bowled by Roland Lefebvre, the Netherlands' best bowler.

Skipper Waqar Younis was caught and bowled in the penultimate over of the innings.

Shoaib Akhtar provided the innings with some momentum in the later stages, smashing one six on his way to 26 from 27 balls.

Gentle medium pacer Lefebvre finished with one for 39 from his 10 overs after an opening spell of six overs that cost a mere 11 runs. Left-arm spinner Jacob-Jan Esmeijer was also economical conceding just 35 runs from 10 overs.

Coach Richard Pybus will have been pleased to have claimed the essential four points but disappointed with the performance of the middle order and concerned lack of discipline shown by the bowlers, who conceded an unacceptable 40 sundries, and some sloppy fielding.