India stumble in seeing off Dutch
India made heavy work of overhauling the Netherlands’ meagre total before wrapping up a five-wicket win in Delhi that took them two points clear at the top of Group B.
Chasing 190, the hosts enjoyed a flying start thanks to Virender Sehwag’s 39 from 26 balls but slipped to 139 for five to give the Dutch hope of an improbable triumph.
However, Yuvraj Singh - India’s all-round hero in victory over Ireland on Sunday - added 51 runs to his two earlier wickets, steering Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s side to victory with 81 deliveries to spare.
Their place in the quarter-finals will be secure if either of Bangladesh or Ireland fail to win all of their three remaining group games.
India’s attack had proved too much for the Netherlands, who were bowled out for 189 in 46.4 overs after beginning well at Feroz Shah Kolta.
The Associate nation won the toss and reached 99 for two in the 29th over, but Ryan ten Doeschate’s departure precipitated a slump to 108 for six.
Captain Peter Borren offered lower-order resistance, top-scoring with 38 from 36 balls, but his team’s total was insufficient despite India’s top five failing to capitalise on starts.
The Netherlands left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar deserves credit for removing Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar and Yusuf Pathan en route to figures 3-53 from 10 overs.
But India paceman Zaheer Khan returned the most impressive statistics in taking 3-20 from 6.4 overs, while spinners Yuvraj, who claimed his maiden one-day international five-wicket haul against Ireland, and Piyush Chawla shared four relatively expensive wickets.
The rest of the India bowlers, while less potent today, were impressively economical, particularly spinners Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf, whose combined 16 wicketless overs cost just 48 runs.
“We achieved quite a few of our objectives today,” Dhoni said. “But you can't really achieve everything in one game and there are still quite a few areas where we need to improve.
“In fielding of course, we've been quite consistent, even though we may not be the most brilliant side. But in our batting, the lower order should not have been called on to finish the game.”
The Netherlands openers Eric Szwarczynski and Wesley Barresi began solidly, taking 56 from 15 powerplay overs until Szwarczynski, who had survived an lbw review facing Chawla, fell for 28 to the leg-spinner’s googly and Yuvraj trapped Barresi in front for 26 despite a review.
Tom Cooper and ten Doeschate briefly prospered before the latter lofted Yuvraj to long-off. Three wickets went in as many overs as Ashish Nehra had Cooper caught behind for 29 and Bas Zuiderent departed lbw to Zaheer without scoring after an unsuccessful review.
The slide continued with Tom de Grooth punished for Alexei Kervezee’s suicidal single thanks to Chawla’s throw from mid-on to wicketkeeper Dhoni.
Chawla removed Kervezee via Harbhajan’s catch at midwicket and, although Borren struck some lusty blows in the batting powerplay, including consecutive sixes off Chawla, Bradley Kruger was run out from Virat Kohli’s relay as he dithered at the striker’s end.
Mudassar Bukhari took maximums off Nehra and Harbhajan before he and Borren departed in Zaheer’s seventh over. Borren miscued to short fine-leg and Bukhari was yorked for 21 from 18 deliveries.
As he had done in India’s first three World Cup games, Sehwag hit their opening ball for four, this time clipping Bukhari through square-leg.
Tendulkar took a liking to ten Doeschate’s bowling, hitting three consecutive fours, and Sehwag was loathe to be outdone, striking Bukhari for three fours in four balls, although Szwarczynski nearly took a catch at mid-on from the last.
Reprieved, Sehwag lifted Bukhari and Seelaar for six only to locate point off the latter. Yusuf soon joined in the fun with a maximum off Borren over square-leg but lost Tendulkar for 27 from 22 deliveries to Seelaar at long-off.
With the bowling powerplay immediately taken and two new batsmen at the crease, the Netherlands missed an opportunity to run out Gautam Gambhir but removed Kohli when Borren bowled the right-hander between bat and pad.
Gambhir and Yuvraj found regular boundaries until Bukhari clipped the former’s leg stump on 28. India for a while struggled to reach the rope until Dhoni hit three fours in a Kruger over to put them on the verge of victory.
Having taken the batting powerplay, Yuvraj completed proceedings with a clipped four off Kruger that took him to a third successive fifty - from 73 balls - and completed a half-century stand with his skipper, who finished unbeaten on 19.
The Netherlands skipper Borren claimed he was “so proud of us for fighting the way we did”.
He added: “We’ve talked about giving ourselves a chance to win every game we play. We haven’t done that in the last two game, but today we had a chance and we just needed a little bit of luck.”