Netherlands slump after promising start

By Jamie Alter

New Delhi: Mar 9, 2011

Netherlands captain Peter Borren vowed that his team would come out and play “brave cricket” against tournament heavyweights India, but what panned out on the field was a familiar script of unease and indifference. Netherlands new opening act stubbornly denied India a breakthrough for more than 15 overs, but once Piyush Chawla separated the pair the innings lost its way. Subtract Borren s breezy 38 the top score of the innings towards the end and Netherlands would have had a few less than 189 to defend.

On a pitch with variable bounce, Borren opted to bat. The new opening pair of Eric Szwarczynski and Wesley Barresi came out with defiance on their minds and staved off any threat from India s new-ball pair admirably. India swapped Munaf Patel for Ashish Nehra, but the Delhi pacer was discarded after just one over in favour for Yusuf Pathan s off-spin. Zaheer Khan struggled to find his rhythm and wasn t helped by an odd decision to move around the stumps, which negated any appeals for lbw. Bowling without a slip as early as the third over, Zaheer was largely ineffective and driven firmly for three boundaries by Szwarczynski.

The introduction of spin Harbhajan Singh joined Pathan for the seventh over slowed the flow of runs but never was it threatening. Szwarczynski and Barresi batted well, ticking singles without trying anything rash. Their stand of 56 was snapped when Chawla snuck a googly through Szwarczynski in the 16th over.

Yuvraj Singh s introduction produced the second wicket as Barresi was rapped on the pads. It was Yuvraj s 100th ODI wicket, and he had reason to smile soon after when Ryan ten Doeschate chipped him down to long-off. Both ten Doeschate and Tom Cooper had survived dropped catches and missed run-outs, so from India s perspective getting the dangerous ten Doeschate for just 11 was massive.

Ninety-nine for three became 100 for four as soon as Nehra was reintroduced into the attack. With his first delivery, Nehra slanted one across Cooper who drove at it and nicked behind. Mahendra Singh Dhoni needed no further invitation to bring on pace from both ends, and Zaheer was in the thick of things in his comeback over. Bas Zuiderent, Netherlands most experienced player, was gone without scoring as Zaheer got one to curve back in and thud into the batsman s pads.

Two run-outs and another wicket to Chawla left Netherlands 151 for eight and forced Borren to opt for the batting Powerplay and chance his arm, especially against Chawla who was carted for successive sixes in a 17-run final over. Mudassar Bukhari joined the fun with a couple sixes in a handy partnership of 38, but that was as good as it got. Back for a third spell during the batting Powerplay, Zaheer snuffed out the last two wickets in his seventh over.

Brief Scores: Netherlands 189 all out in 46.4 overs (Peter Borren 38, Tom Cooper 29, Eric Szwarczynski 28, Wesley Barresi 26; Zaheer Khan 3 for 20, Yuvraj Singh 2 for 43, Piyush Chawla 2 for 47) vs India.

(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now)

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