India canter to huge win
India 300 for 9 (Dravid 74, Tendulkar 61, ten Doeschate 5-57) beat Netherlands 118 (Yuvraj 4-12) by 182 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
India batted first, racked up 300, kept Netherlands down to 118, and cantered to victory by 182 runs in their warm-up match at Trelawny Stadium, Jamaica. All went pretty much according to script, but then the real point of this match, at least for the Indians, was to get in some meaningful practice before the tournament gets under way in right earnest. Some people used it to do just that, while others couldn't make the most of the opportunity.
One of the players the game was critical to was Virender Sehwag, whose form has been more down than up in the recent past, so much so that he was rested for a series, and he did not quite cash in. On a pitch that could be fairly typical of what to expect in the West Indies - slightly sluggish, occasionally affording the ball some grip, and rather dry - against an attack that was fairly friendly, Sehwag clattered four boundaries in pretty customary fashion, but lost his wicket to carelessness, playing and missing a ball that was slanted in to him.
Sourav Ganguly too fell to a soft dismissal, but he is not in the same boat as Sehwag, having batted so well since his comeback to the side. He was undone as much by the lack of pace and direction of the long-hop that came his way as the lack of needle in the contest. Robin Uthappa, after the two openers had fallen, should have taken the chance to fill his boots, but he too chose flash over preparation, cracking a couple of deliciously lusty shots before chopping one back onto his stumps.
With the top-order having made starts and failing to go on, it fell to Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar to show the way. The two veterans could not be bothered with showing off their not inconsiderable skills. Instead, they chose to spend time at the crease. Full-tosses were patted to long-on for ones and twos, and half-volleys were eased into the gaps in the off side. Tendulkar spent 59 balls at the crease, Dravid 92, as they got a feel for how the ball was coming onto the bat, how quick the outfield was, how the white ball was swinging or spinning. That they helped themselves to half-centuries, Tendulkar 61 and Dravid 74, in a partnership of 116, was only incidental.
Sandwiching the innings of Dravid and Tendulkar were cameos. Just as those that came before the pair, the ones that came after got starts - Yuvraj Singh (14) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (21). Irfan Pathan sealed the deal with an unbeaten 25, and India ended on an even 300 for 9. In all this, Ryan ten Doeschate helped himself to 5 for 57.
From the outset, Netherlands were pretty clear that there was no chasing 301. Instead they concentrated on keeping the bowling out. Pathan, another man to whom this match was crucial, disappointed. Although the ball was shaping in nicely, and he only conceded 12 runs from a first spell of six overs, he lacked penetration and hardly troubled the batsmen. At his quickest he was short of 125 kmh, and unless he picks himself up dramatically, it'll be hard to see him fighting off Sreesanth or Munaf Patel for the third seamer's slot if Ajit Agarkar and Zaheer Khan are sure starters.
In the event Pathan did manage a wicket, trapping Darron Reekers in front in the 9th over, and that opened the account for India. From then on, though troubled by Sreesanth, Netherlands' batsmen managed to hang in there till the advent of Harbhajan Singh. They simply could not read the doosra and any attempt to use their feet resulted in a stumping. Harbhajan picked up two quick wickets, Anil Kumble barged in with two of his own, and amazingly, Yuvraj Singh tossed up his left-arm spin for figures of 4 for 12 from 3.5 overs as Netherlands slumped to 118 all out and defeat by 182 runs. The game was a mismatch from the start, and it played out without any surprises.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo