ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

India v Netherlands, Group B, World Cup 2011, Delhi

A wasted opportunity for Netherlands

Like fellow Associates Ireland, Netherlands play as a team and have belief, however, unlike Ireland, they do not have definite plans, as is evident from the number of dot balls they face while batting

Nagraj Gollapudi at the Feroz Shah Kotla

March 9, 2011

Comments: 24 | Text size: A | A

Even Netherlands will wonder how they could have been so good while defending and so terrible while batting. The contrast between their attitude and play in the afternoon and evening was black and white. If they defended a small total sturdily, a complete meekness had enveloped their batsmen while setting up the target. All the pre-match talk of being brave got lost in the Delhi smog. In the end, Netherlands were left rubbing their eyes.

Yet there was more clarity when it all began. As soon as Peter Borren called heads and opted to bat, it seemed Netherlands had a plan. There must have been a target too (Borren said in the end they fell short by 60 runs). But in the middle, Netherlands lacked direction, grew confused by the minute, and in the end even a late fightback from Borren was not enough to mount a challenging total.

All three batsmen in the top order got starts but none progressed to take charge. There was a new opening pair in Eric Szwarczynski, who was playing his first match of the tournament, and Wesley Barresi after the original pair of Alexei Kervezee and Barresi had failed to raise a platform in the previous three matches. The Szwarczynski-Barresi combination showed intent and character to survive the initial spell from Zaheer Khan and India's spinners, who were brought in immediately. Playing with utmost caution the pair had raised 58 runs in the first 15 overs. It was not an embarrassing thing, as even teams like South Africa had made slow starts on the same ground during the tournament. The key was to steadily multiply the gains from then on.

That is when the inexperience kicked in. Both openers perished trying to force the issue. The middle order was no better. Not one batsman showed any urgency. Not one batsman could take charge. All batsmen comfortably forgot that rotating the strike was mandatory. As a consequence, the run-rate scarcely climbed to much over three runs an over, until the 40th over after which 55 runs were scored in 6.4 overs.

Out of the 277 deliveries Netherlands faced, there were 181 dot balls. Eighty four of their 189 runs had been scored in boundaries and sixes. That pattern has been carried forward from their previous three matches.

Essentially, the inability to adjust the gears hurt Netherlands badly. Here is where Ireland are heads and shoulders above the rest of the Associates. Of course, compared to the 9-to-5 bunch that makes up Netherlands' squad, Ireland have more professionals in their ranks who ply their trade on the English county circuit; a stable support structure that supports the game helps too.

One big reason Ireland put up a much stiffer fight against India was because they had a definite plan. They understood very well that runs would not come easy but they found a way out by pressurising India's fielding, easily one of the worst in the tournament. Also, for Ireland, there is never only one man standing. Many hands have worked together to keep Ireland a competitive side. Of course, a freakish innings like Kevin O'Brien's definitely helps, but Ireland now enter a contest with a hope that they spark off an upset. Opponents can no more ignore them.

That is not saying that Netherlands don't have any of those qualities. In fact, many were evident in their first match against England. Ryan ten Doeschate cracked a magnificent century, but he had many men behind him. Later, in the field, Netherlands showed the spirit of Ireland to give England a scare. Sadly, in the next two matches, they were annihilated by South Africa and West Indies.

Pieter Seelaar celebrates the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar, India v Netherlands, Group B, World Cup, Delhi, March 9, 2011
Pieter Seelaar now has Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen among his list of scalps © AFP

Unfortunately for Netherlands, on Wednesday, their star player ten Doeschate perished to silly shot selection and later was targeted by India's opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, going for 23 runs in his first two overs. Netherlands showed courage, and Pieter Seelaar, their young left-arm spinner, who had watched his Ireland counterpart George Dockrell bowl against India, was brave to challenge the India batsmen, and came out on top with the prize wickets of Sehwag, Tendulkar and Yusuf Pathan.

"We were brave to come back with the bat from where we were," Borren said after the match. "We were also brave to come back from where we were after Tendulkar and Sehwag's onslaught. It was a little bit of a rollercoaster ride really throughout the match.

"We started really well. We had a solid foundation. We lost our way pretty much completely in the middle of the innings but managed to make up a few runs at the backend of the (batting) Powerplay. Then, when India came out, Tendulkar and Sehwag got off to a flier. We dragged them back to 99 for 4 at which stage we backed ourselves of having a good chance. But Yuvraj [Singh] and [MS] Dhoni batted really well."

Borren said at no point were his side overwhelmed, even when India were in a delicate position at 99 for 4. "I don't think we were overwhelmed by the occasion at 99 for 4. We did not lose our discipline. We lacked the firepower if anything. I am very proud of the way we came back after they were something like 65 for none after probably ... one over," he said, managing to keep his wit intact despite his team's fourth straight loss in the tournament.

Sitting next to him, Seelaar was all smiles when asked to pick his favourite dismissal. "Tendulkar, mate. Who else?" he burst out laughing. "It is very good to get their wickets. Usually I don't bowl to that calibre of players. I thrive on it. It gets the best out of you." Seelaar can add the three scalps to a list which includes Kevin Pietersen.

But Netherlands need more performances like Seelaar's in order to scratch off wasted opportunities like today.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 24 
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Posted by Rakesh on (March 10, 2011, 23:42 GMT)

India has a huge base of cricketers .Probably more than the total NZ population.However it is just around 20 players or so who represent India for almost a decade.It is enough to show slight glimses of talent and must be young around 18 to 19 years.Than the indian selectors persists with you so that one fine day you show the potential. eg, Yuvraj, Ravi Shastri etc etc. If Indian cricketers want mor international exposure and oppurtunity ,they must seriously contemplate migrating to countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe etc etc. It will benefit the cricket of these countries and provide oppurtunity fame etc to players, they can develop their game and raise the standard of these countries. This can be real globalization. Go ahead young guys if you are unluck ignored by selectors for more than 2 to 3 years, always try these option. These way it will help to raise the standard of cricket worldwide. Cricketers can target,Namibia, Netherland, WI,Ireland,,NZ etc.Teams will be competitive.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 8:03 GMT)

Critics can make money by criticizing. In prelims before the cup, India had convincing victories against Aus and SL and India had peaked too early for WC. India wins against Ireland and Dutch "lazily" they are written off.

Guys, there are teams other than India playing too. No press of their country is disecting them like ours is doing. Chill and give breathing space to Dhoni & Co.

Posted by John on (March 10, 2011, 8:02 GMT)

I think Netherlands did very well to push India as hard as they did. There are about 6,000 cricketers in the Netherlands. India must at least 6 million. How can anyone be surprised that India has by far the better team, especially in home conditions. This match wasn't a wasted opportunity - it was a very creditable effort.

Posted by faisal on (March 10, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

pls stop criticizing Indian cricket team,,,enuf is enuf now.....goin bac to match between S.A and Eng,,S.A being strongest in de race dey wudnt chse de target of 160 odd runs, its doesnt mean dat S.A is having weak batting line,,,dey have de best batting line after india i guess....And whereas india's fielding matters its tradition v cannot change dat.....From my point of view so far India is goin smoothly..being clam and blah blah blah

Posted by Ankan on (March 10, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

Netherlands has pretty highly skilled players. TenDo & Seelar will be selected in any team by the calibre they have. Borren has a brave heart, barressi a swift keeper and eric a calm opener. its the others who are not able to match up. expected a lot more fight from the likes of tom de grooth & tommy cooper. Even if neds are a bunch of immigrants so is england. that doesnt take away the credit from them

Posted by sri on (March 10, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

@ anver777 . You have certainly not watched the game. Have you? If the Netherlands had scored 235-240 Indian batsman wouldnt have gifted their wickets (esp sachin) and you wouldn't see pathan going up the order to finish it off. The top order tried to score quickly and threw away their wickets but once wickets fell they calmed down and played slowly and i dont read too much into this slow win (wait 190 in 36 overs is not that slow right?)All that matters is those points to reach next level.

Posted by Vivek on (March 10, 2011, 6:49 GMT)

I dont get the point of every cricket journalist going after teams TRYING to take the initiative , it doesnt always pay off. India were never in trouble . Against an attack like this barring Seelar who was smart if not very brilliant , if harbhajan had applied himself , he wud have gotten a 50, sachin and sehwag weren't looking to stay in and get in form. Their timing shows they are in form. as for india being the worst fielding unit , back up a few months to the SA match where india won by 1 run Stop bashing india for being a BAD fielding side. No team is perfect. South Africa seem to have a perfect squad specially now with a leggie in , but do they have Composure and Temperament to win tight matches. No they don't. If Indian bowlers and fielders were really so pathetic , This team wouldnt win Test matches , home or away. Period.

Posted by Pratyush on (March 10, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

Another of those typically over analyzed and over critical response by the author. How is India the worst fielding side? That's ridiculous to say. India made the match interesting by going after the bowling on a slow pitch, else this would have been a canter. The author is way off the mark here ...

Posted by Eshwar on (March 10, 2011, 5:17 GMT)

Definitely not the worst fielding side in the world. Netherlands did not have a chance, India took a chance in their approach having the confidence that they can back up their middle order. However the chance went a little too far for comfort.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 10, 2011, 4:31 GMT)

Ireland and Netherlands have shown very good performance in world cup. Their performance is far better than experienced (!) zimbabwe,kenya and bangladesh. ICC should think before taking any decision about minnows..

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