Ryan ten Doeschate and Bas Zuiderent batted with a professionalism lacking in the Netherlands' run-up to this clash of the Group A winnows to clinch an eight-wicket win over Scotland at St. Kitts. Chasing 137 thanks to a comprehensive bowling effort, ten Doeschate and Zuiderent, the enthusiastic rookie and the composed veteran, complimented each other and ensured the Dutch didn't go home with the wooden spoon.
Scotland had only one option - take wickets. John Blain wasted little time, inducing Darron Reekers into a false shot in the fourth over, and forced Eric Szwarczynski to top-edge a pull that wicketkeeper Colin Smith judged to perfection. But it was to be the last celebration for Scotland as Zuiderent and ten Doeschate defended the good deliveries and put away the poor ones. The 50 came up with a back-foot cut from Zuiderent, his preferred scoring option in an unbeaten 56-ball 43, and ten Doeschate, en route to a fourth ODI fifty, drove and clipped without any fuss.
ten Doeschate brought up the 50-run stand with a sweetly-struck six over long-on and moved into the 40s with a lovely crunch in the gap at point. Just 26 and with a promising career ahead of him, his solid defence and a good cut shot came in handy against Scotland's erratic attack. Thirteen fours and big six highlighted a fine, determined innings, in which he took control of the scoring when he saw Scottish shoulders slag.
Against Glenn Rogers' slow left-arm stuff, both batsmen were content to thrust forward and keep the balls out, but when offered width from the medium-pacers they cut well. Each received very lucky reprieves from both umpires, Asoka De Silva and Tony Hill, who failed to give plumb leg before appeals off Dougie Brown and Majid Haq. With victory in sight, ten Doeschate tore into Brown and Haq to seal the deal.
The Netherlands only had one World Cup win to their credit, a 64-run affair against Namibia in 2003, but today they came out with full intent of a second. Undeterred by the announcement that their captain Luuk van Troost had dropped himself, their band of merry medium-pacers wasted little time in running through Scotland.
Navdeep Poonia, one of three Scottish players included, lasted just two deliveries as he edged one that seamed away from around off stump, giving replacement captain Jereon Smits his first catch of the match. Stelling should have had his second earlier, but Daan van Bunge - looking lost at slip - misjudged a regulation head-high snick off opener Haq's blade in the third over.
Reekers, bowling at around 115kmph and getting the ball to land in the right areas, made sure the drop didn't cost the Netherlands much as he beat Haq's leaden-footed defense in the next over to make it nine for two.
Stelling wasn't bowling at a threatening pace by any standards, but adhered to a good line and length and, critically, made the batsmen play. In the seventh over, Stelling's fourth, the experienced Gavin Hamilton, who moved across to one that pitched on middle and swung towards leg, missed the attempted flick and was trapped just below the knee roll. Umpire de Silva upheld the appeal, rightfully, before Stelling struck next ball. Brown's last World Cup innings was forgettable, as he went half forward to a peach that moved in from off and middle to strike him low in front of the stumps, and de Silva shot up the finger without hesitation.
The early strikes, coupled with the batsmen's wariness to anything just outside off stump, forced a second slip and a short gully. Ryan Watson, Scotland's captain, played out 26 deliveries for 2 before hitting back-to-back boundaries off Reekers; a firm cut through point and a shimmy down the track to pull one through midwicket. van Bunge's travails continued as he let Watson off with another spilt dolly at slip - thick edge flying to his right, snaffle and drop - off Stelling. Watson rubbed it in very next ball with another ferocious cut through the gap at point.
Like his wards, Watson didn't last long. Tim de Leede, 39, and the most experienced Dutchman around, joined the fun with his fourth delivery when he snapped up a firmly struck chance off his own bowling; Watson drove back hard, de Leede got his hands up in time, parried the ball back, and his brilliant reflexes took care of the rest. Mark Jonkman knocked back Colin Smith (19) and Neil McCallum (24) just before the 25-over mark, and the flying Dutch were over the moon.
Mohammad Kashif, the slow right-arm spinner, wasn't one to be left out. Craig Wright stepped out to a quicker one and was stumped in a flash by Smits, and Rogers, who hit some good blows in his 30-ball 26, feathered a thin edge. van Bunge removed last-man Paul Hoffman, and the relieved smile on his face said it all.