Seelaar and Kervezee shut out Scotland
In contrast to their previous game - a tie followed by defeat in the one-over eliminator against Ireland - Netherlands were clinical with ball and, to a lesser degree, with bat, executing a seven-wicket victory in their warm-up game against Scotland at the Oval. Alexei Kervezee led a calm chase, never letting the asking-rate get out of hand, and his century stand with Bas Zuiderent shut out Scotland. There was a moment of anxiety in the final over, when Zuiderent was dismissed, but Dan van Bunge hit the winning boundary with three balls to spare.
Netherlands' victory, ahead of the tournament's opening game against England on Friday, was set up by their bowlers, who performed impressively for the second game in a row. Dirk Nannes has proved extremely difficult for the Associate batsmen to score off and he conceded only 13 runs, although he did not take a wicket. Edgar Schiferli and Pieter Seelaar weren't as economical but took three wickets each to trip up Scotland's batsmen.
While Nannes was miserly, bowling 16 dot balls, his new-ball partner Schiferli made the breakthroughs. He sent Scotland captain Gavin Hamilton's off stump cart-wheeling with his third ball, but he had overstepped. Not discouraged by his error, Schiferli had Hamilton miscuing a loft to mid-off in his second over. He picked up a wicket in each of his last two overs to finish with 3 for 33.
There were a fair number of people at The Oval for a match between two Associates and most of them were Asian, eagerly awaiting the ICC's 'Catch the Spirit' clash between India and Pakistan later in the evening. The weather, which has been gloriously sunny over the last few days, had unfortunately turned cloudy and chilly, and the fans had a few hits to cheer as well.
Scotland's batsmen hit only one six - Colin Smith hitting Schiferli over the long-off boundary before holing out to long-on the very next ball - between them and the innings' top-scorer was Kyle Coetzer, who held up one end during the middle overs with 39 off 28 balls. Coetzer was done in by a well-flighted delivery from Seelaar which left him stranded outside his crease. Seelaar went on take two more wickets to finish with 3 for 25, his second consecutive three-wicket haul, and treated the crowd to his curious swaying-in-the-wind celebration.
Netherlands lost Darron Reekers in the first over of their chase, caught at mid-off, but that was their only setback for the next 15 overs. Zuiderent, who made his international debut as a teenager in the 1996 World Cup, and Kervezee, added 105 runs for the second wicket, denying Scotland the quick wickets needed to defend a small total. They took few risks, focusing on rotating strike, waiting patiently for the boundary opportunity from the bowlers.
Zuiderent and Kervezee hit only a six each and scored at about a run-a-ball. Kervezee was eventually caught and bowled by Majid Haq for 62, with 18 runs required, but Zuiderent ensured that Netherlands did not suffer any more losses until the final over, when he holed out while trying to hit down the ground. van Bunge came in and clouted his first ball to the long-off boundary to kill the possibility of another one-over eliminator.
George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo