England see off ten Doeschate
England overcame the brilliance of Ryan ten Doeschate to ensure they avoided an upset against the Netherlands in their World Cup opener.
Ten Doeschate’s splendid 119 off 110 balls helped the Associate nation to 292 for six in Nagpur, arousing their hopes of pulling off a repeat of their famous win over England at Lord’s in the 2009 World Twenty20.
The Essex all-rounder also played his part with the ball, interrupting a hitherto untroubled pursuit on a superb track with two wickets in as many overs to spark a late bout of nerves.
However, his allocation complete, he could do little to prevent England scraping home with six wickets and eight deliveries to spare thanks to the guiding hands of Paul Collingwood and Ravi Bopara.
They sealed victory courtesy of a superbly-paced unbroken stand of 57 off 34 balls, but England were ultimately indebted to the contributions of Andrew Strauss, who made a wonderfully fluent 88, and Jonathan Trott for his 62.
In achieving the third highest run-chase in World Cup history, England were thus spared the indignity of becoming the first giant-killing victims of this year's competition.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, can take solace in winning countless admirers for the role they played in the first genuinely close contest we have seen over the past week.
They performed more than admirably in all departments and, but for a handful of timely blows from Collingwood and Bopara, who carried England over the finishing line with successive leg-side boundaries off Bernard Loots, the Netherlands could tonight be enjoying the finest result in their one-day history.
If ten Doeschate was grateful for the assistance provided by Tom Cooper and Tom de Grooth with the bat before captain Peter Borren figured in a further late flurry, the Netherlands cause was by aided in no small part by an unaccustomedly ragged England fielding display.
Indeed, ten Doeschate was a beacon of calm during an eventful innings that saw Borren bowled off a no-ball; catches refused; diving attempts spilled; and an angry Asad Rauf, the umpire, sprinting to chastise a member of groundstaff for his part in a delay caused by a malfunctioning sightscreen.
He took 12 deliveries to get off the mark, but thereafter batted with the sort of maturity that has earned him an astonishing average of 71.21 in 28 ODIs, albeit the majority of them against lesser nations.
By the time he perished in the penultimate over he had hit three sixes over midwicket to complement nine fours, and the final stages of his innings were completed despite the obvious discomfort of a leg injury which failed to prevent him returning figures of 2-47.
The tone for a frustrating afternoon in the field for England was set by Wesley Barresi, who struck six occasionally streaky fours in his 25-ball 29 despite seeing Alexei Kervezee caught behind after being cramped for room by Tim Bresnan.
Matt Prior completed a smart stumping when Barresi dragged his back foot out of the crease playing forward to Graeme Swann, who was alone amongst the England attack in enhancing his reputation with eventual figures of 2-35 from 10 overs.
Cooper and ten Doeschate relieved the pressure, batting with growing confidence as they compiled a restorative third-wicket stand worth 78, only for Cooper to clip Collingwood tamely to James Anderson at short midwicket immediately after being dropped by a diving Kevin Pietersen at fine-leg off Bresnan.
Anderson and Pietersen were left to dispute where the blame lay after watching a skied ten Doeschate drive, with the batsman on 47, land between them as they converged from deep mid-on and mid-off.
Either way, Swann was not amused, but his disappointment was tempered somewhat when he had Bas Zuiderent, the former Sussex batsman, taken at short midwicket courtesy of a leading edge.
The resourceful de Grooth proved a more reliable accomplice for ten Doeschate as they added 64 in 10 overs, only to be yorked making room to Stuart Broad in the first over of a batting powerplay that nonetheless yielded 54 runs.
Borren took three successive fours off the wayward Anderson before ten Doeschate pulled Broad to Bopara at deep square-leg, having gone to his fourth ODI hundred - but his first against a major team - courtesy of four overthrows. He and Borren had flayed 61 off just 32 deliveries.
England suffered needlessly when Borren was recalled a matter of yards from the pavilion after they were deemed to have insufficient fielders in the ring, and there was still time for Trott to drop Mudassar Bukhari at short fine-leg.
England’s response with the bat, by contrast, was remarkably assured, for which Strauss deserves immense credit.
He played with such easy fluency that his 34-ball half-century went largely unnoticed, comfortably outscoring his partner in an opening stand of 105 that was broken only when Pietersen, on 39, drove Pieter Seelaar to short extra-cover.
A run-rate of almost six an over was achieved with the minimum of fuss while the skipper was at the crease and a hundred seemed a certainty until he pulled Bukhari to deep square-leg, where Cooper took a fine sliding catch.
Trott and Ian Bell appeared equally unperturbed as they put on 58, but it was perhaps inevitable that man of the match ten Doeschate would have a further say in the contest.
In having Trott superbly stumped down the leg side, and Bell bowled via inside edge as he made room to drive his final delivery, he reduced England to 239 for four with seven overs remaining.
However, even when the required rate breached eight an over, Collingwood and Bopara maintained their composure, and the latter spared the fingernails in the dressing room further damage by taking 16 off the first four balls of the penultimate over.