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
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.
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.
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