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Match Analysis

Vikramjit's 'lids off' moment caps Netherlands' record-breaking run

They've posted three of their four highest ODI totals in their last six matches, and along the way an exciting top-order talent has come of age

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
Vikramjit Singh broke free after the powerplay after being cautious earlier on, Netherlands vs Oman, ODI World Cup qualifier, Super Six, Harare, July 3, 2023

Vikramjit Singh has modelled his game on Quinton de Kock  •  ICC via Getty Images

Coming into this World Cup Qualifier, Netherlands' batters had only once scored two hundreds in one ODI series or tournament in the last 15 years. They'd done this at the 2011 World Cup, where Ryan ten Doeschate had made centuries against England and Ireland. They've done it once again now, thanks to Vikramjit Singh and Teja Nidamanuru.
It may not immediately strike you as an achievement worth headlining but consider that the Netherlands squad came into this tournament with only one ODI century between them. Netherlands' batters had only made 11 in their ODI history. You can see, then, why hundreds are much vaunted in their camp.
"That's one of our KPIs. It's called "lids off," which means someone needs to get a hundred in the game," Vikramjit said at the post-match press conference following Netherlands' 74 run win over Oman.
The phrase refers to the way a batter typically celebrates a century: by removing their helmet (read: lid) and raising their bat, and it's something that has been rare for Netherlands in the past. Before this World Cup Qualifier, the most recent Dutch batter to score a century was Nidamanuru - against Zimbabwe in March - and before that, no Dutch batter had raised his bat to three figures in more than nine years, since Wesley Baressi in 2014.
Now, in the space of a week, the team has two hundreds and the latest one was scored by the batter who has been talked up as one of the most talented in the country. Vikramjit moved to the Netherlands as a child and was coached by his father before going through the age-group ranks. He had a reputation as an aggressive strokeplayer and a consistent contributor. He had only averaged 28.35 in 17 ODIs before this Qualifier, but it was notable that he had only been dismissed three times in single figures. He'd made three half-centuries but his highest score was only 65.
It was clear he could get in and make a start; his challenge for this tournament was to keep going and convert.
In Netherlands' first match against Zimbabwe, he eased his way to 88 before miscuing a sweep shot straight to deep square leg. He was then out cheaply against USA, feeding a catch straight back to Ali Khan, but then got 30 and 37 against Nepal and West Indies respectively. He was dismissed by spinners on both occasions - pinned on the back foot by Sandeep Lamichhanne and then not getting to the pitch of a Roston Chase ball and slicing it to deep midwicket - but showed glimpses that his preferred style of play is to attack. It shouldn't be any other way for someone who models his game on Quinton de Kock, except that there are occasions when it should be. Like this morning.
In cloudy, cool conditions in Harare - not yet seen at this tournament - the ball was moving even more than usual. Vikramjit was squared up by the first one he faced and edged it behind as it shaped away. The chance fell short of first slip and it allowed him to score his first run, but it was a warning that sometimes batters have to defend. For the next over, that's what he did. He scored just four runs off 12 balls before a drizzle halted play, and returned to be beaten by a beauty from Bilal Khan, which swerved away from him as he went fishing. He tapped the next ball to mid-on for one. Lesson learnt.
But Vikramjit did not have to wait too long to get deliveries he could go after. Kaleemullah offered width and Vikramjit cracked him through the covers for a trio of fours. Bilal overpitched and he leaned into a drive; then he bowled a half-tracker which Vikramjit sent over deep backward square for six. And power was not the only aspect of his game. He opened the face late to steer Fayyaz Butt past backward point and got inside the line of a Kaleemullah ball to send it fine past the wicketkeeper for four. Despite his slower-than-usual start, his fifty came up in 52 balls, and he kept his scoring rate high even after the loss of his opening partner Max O'Dowd.
The shots of Vikramjit's innings were a pull over midwicket off Ayaan Khan, because of how quickly he picked the length, and a delicately laced cut between point and backward point off Aqib Ilyas, but the hallmark of his second fifty was his strike rotation. He scored only one boundary between his 80th and 100th run but ran five singles, four twos, and a three. The Dutch had shown their skill and speed in running between the wickets in their epic chase against West Indies, and a similar urgency was on display here. They have another mantra: "at least 22 twos," because "we like to run a lot of twos, put other teams under pressure and have that intent," Vikramjit said.
In this match, Netherlands ran 31 twos compared to Oman's 19, and though that was not the deciding factor in the end, it helped push the score up. Netherlands ended up posting their second-highest ODI total, a week after they made their highest ODI score - 374 for 9 against West Indies in one of the greatest matches the game has seen - and two weeks after they equalled their previous-highest ODI score of 315. While conditions in Zimbabwe have suited run-scoring, the runs still have to be scored and the Dutch have been consistent and clinical in doing that.
They've also established some individuals around whom they can build their batting line-up and Vikramjit is one of them. This innings was perfectly balanced, with an equal number of runs scored on the off and on side, and it laid a foundation for Wesley Baressi to plunder 97 off 65 balls. He was set for a century of his own but won't be too upset to have missed out because the team needed acceleration at that point.
Netherlands' victory means they are still in contention for the World Cup, albeit with an outside chance. They need to depend on Scotland beating Zimbabwe and then beat Scotland themselves on Thursday but they're not too concerned with looking that far ahead. Instead, their focus is on making sure they can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the teams at this event, and the World Cup if they do get there, and to prove that the experience they gained in the World Cup Super League (where they won only three out of 24 matches) has made them better.
"Everyone wants to win. Everyone is very competitive. There's a good atmosphere," Vikramjit said. "There's a lot of talk about Associate teams and for us that's almost a swear word in the changeroom. We're just the Netherlands' cricket team. We don't call ourselves Associates."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent for South Africa and women's cricket