There is an image that kept repeating itself, and summed up Netherlands' game today. Their batsmen often found the length and width to cut, but kept hitting the ball in front of square, to cover-point. It resulted in a statistic that sums up their game: 185 dot balls out of the 278 they faced. In their first game of the tournament, when Netherlands scored 292 against England they faced 150 dot balls out of 305. Not only did they not last their full 50 overs, Netherlands scored off 35 balls fewer.
It wasn't easy for Netherlands. They were playing in Bangladesh for the first time, and no matter how much training you do on tailored pitches, batting on such slow tracks against pretty accurate and smart spinners is tough. More often than not, you don't succeed in your first attempt, as Netherlands found out. They tried to manufacture shots against the seam bowlers when the ball was new and hard and the fields up. They even sent in a pinch hitter at the fall of the first wicket. It didn't work.
"Our ratio between runs and dot balls, and singles and boundaries was too low today," Peter Borren, their captain, said. "We need to rotate the strike better. It is difficult here in these conditions, on this wicket, against the spinners, not as easy to rotate the strike as what we normally find. So this is something we have really tried hard to work on, and we came out short today.
"It's hard to practise for those conditions that we came out against today. Three left-arm spinners on a very, very slow wicket, trying to rotate the strike - I think the guys found it difficult, and if guys get in, they find it a little easier. It's always difficult to start with. Once you are in, it's easier. Today we got in a little bit, and then got out. Struggled to rotate the strike a bit."
Netherlands let themselves down with four run-outs and batsmen not converting starts into big scores. They would find it hard to blame themselves for two of those run-outs. One was a deflection off the bowler's hand onto the non-striker's stumps, and the other came out of confusion, with Ryan ten Doeschate trying to farm the strike with the No. 11.
"What happens is it takes time to get in against the spinners on slow wickets," Borren said. "It takes a little bit of getting used to. Today, every time we looked like getting a little bit used to it, we lost a wicket. Four run-outs, which was pretty crucial. It was hard work, the wicket was hard with their bowlers."
The regular fall of wickets meant Netherlands could never really use the batting Powerplay. On the face, it might have seemed ten Doeschate missed a trick by not calling for the Powerplay earlier than he eventually did, in the 44th over with nine wickets down, but to be fair to him there never were two batsmen set enough to utilise it. It could be argued that big batsmen take the risk and the responsibility alone in these situations, but perhaps the need to last the full 50 overs played on ten Doeschate's mind. He stayed unbeaten on 53.
"We kept losing wickets at crucial times," Borren said. "You try and form a partnership between a couple of guys so they are both comfortable, and then you might take the Powerplay. We left the Powerplay till too late, we were nine down when we took it. The reason we didn't take it earlier was, we were trying to build partnerships, and just kept failing to do that. Run-outs, a couple of poor dismissals - four run-outs, it's pretty criminal at this level, and something we are really disappointed with."