An impressive win but there is one worry
India had set their eyes on a big score against the comparatively weak Netherlands. They eventually ended batting first after being put in by the opposition which very much suited them as I guess they would have batted first even if they had won the toss.
Indian openers Anju Jain and Anjum Chopra began on a sedate note. While Jain was more open to the idea of scoring runs, Chopra appeared to get herself tied down with her attempt to play, more often than not, square on both sides of the wickets. She appeared more cramped for space in the process but played a determined innings. Anju Jain appeared to be a victim of a leg before decision, bringing Mithali Raj to the middle.
The entry of Raj accelerated the scoring rate to an extent especially on account of some very good running between the wickets by Chopra. The 101-run partnership for the second wicket between these two laid the foundation for an onslaught later on. Chopra's attempt to play in front of the wicket came rather late in the innings but she eventually fell in the process of lofting one over extra cover.
The run rate was none too impressive even after Raj fell but the fourth wicket pair of Hemalatha Kala and Chandrakantha Kaul smashed the Dutch attack to smithereens and when the Indian innings ended, the score read a healthy 275 for 4 with 75 runs coming in quick time from this partnership. Kala's innings stood out as a shining example with her 56 runs coming off just 40 balls. It was not just her score but the authentic and authoritative manner in which she got those runs that warmed the handful of spectators watching the match.
Kaul (39 off 37 balls), who has been out of touch with the game after her sojourn in England, returned unbeaten, obviously happy with her form although it was against one of the babes of the women's cricket arena. It is interesting that Netherlands are playing in their fourth World Cup but the difference in standard between the top five teams and the rest is rather vast.
Set target of 276, Netherlands never seemed to be in the run. Sunita Kanojia, who opened the attack, bowled against the breeze but appeared to be the best medium pacer insight with her ability to swing the ball away from a right hander which pays better dividends against the more accomplished batsmen. But she was decisively unlucky not to be amongst the wickets though she bowled economically.
In the end the Netherlands team managed to score 121 for 6 resulting in an Indian victory by a huge margin of 154 runs. But what has been disturbing out here has been the inability of the Indian team to get any team all out in the competition and in the two warm up games prior to it. This is in spite of the fact that all the teams respect the Indian spin attack and the medium pacers have made the initial breakthroughs. May be the think thank of the team needs to address this issue and sort out the strategically problematic areas that may have crept into their game plan.
But the defeat of England at the hands of South Africa has made it easier for India even though it has thrown open the competition and made it harder for England to qualify for the semi-final. But then it is early days yet and one can't write away the tenacious England team at this stage.