Preview: India look to seal quarters in Dutch game

MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir play football during a practise session.

India look to seal quarters in Dutch game

By Suneer Chowdhary

It was eight years back, when India had met Netherlands for the first time in an international. It remains the only occasion. India had gone into the game, with their batsmen having been battered by the Kiwis in the series immediately preceding the tournament and continued to cop flak after being bowled for 204. That India won that game hardly mattered to the critics because the common refrain was that the performance was as unconvincing as it could get against an Associate side.

Eight years on, India will play their second ODI against Netherlands at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. And the expectations from both sides have changed drastically since their previous meeting. India were tipped to be one of the favourites to win the World Cup at the start, while Netherlands were expected to deliver an upset or two. Three games each and question-marks have been raised again; can India win the tournament and can the Dutch surprise some bigger side?

It is around the half-way stage in the World Cup and despite all the knives that have been pointed at India, they are currently at the top of the points table in their group. Partially, one can attribute this to their wins against the relatively weaker sides, Bangladesh and Ireland. However, the naysayers need to consider that both victories have come against sides which had scalped a Test-playing nation in the previous edition of the World Cup. The potential banana-peels had been avoided.

Gauging by the manner in which Netherlands have played in the tournament so far, the game should be a cakewalk for the home side. And then again, there are the vagaries of cricket that strike when complacency sets in. The Ireland-game had put the Indian batting under pressure and for some time it had exhibited a reasonable probability of wilting. Yuvraj Singh discovered his batting, MS Dhoni exhibited his ice-cool temperament and Yusuf Pathan gave the crowd what they hadn t seen in the first near-90 overs of the game to win India the match.

Then again, it is a matter of playing at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the home of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli. These were also the three of those who had failed to leave a mark against Ireland. Netherlands better beware of the troika.

The Dutch had fielded first against South Africa in a day-game as they had in the West Indies in a bid to exploit the early morning-moisture. However, the Dutch bowling which has had its chinks amongst the Associates saw them into cracks in these big-league games. It was quite clear that the best chance that they would have of running a top side close is to bat first, get a big one and hope that the pressure of the situation gets to the opposition.

The aforementioned tactic had almost worked for them against England. At least they ran the English close. The West Indies and South African losses were by 215 and 231 runs respectively.

Where the Indians have struggled is a no-brainer. Bowling has been their Achilles Heel. Despite a reasonable bowling performance in the Ireland game, the question-marks over Piyush Chawla s bowling had become catcalls for his removal. Harbhajan Singh s two wickets from three games does not compare well with Shahid Afridi s 14 from the same number of games. Munaf Patel has strung in a couple of reasonable ones while Zaheer Khan has been the only bowler whose incision has caused damage.

In a way, India have been lucky with the schedule, with three of their first four games against the inexperienced nations. This has allowed the bowling attack to get into their groove nicely before the sterner tests of the Amlas, de Villiers and Gayles of the world. In this game, it will be Ryan ten Doeschate they need to contend with, a batsman they have never bowled to.

India (Probable): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan

Netherlands (Probable): Alexei Kervezee, Wesley Baressi (wk), Tom Cooper, Bas Zuiderent, Tom de Grooth, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Peter Borren (c), Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar, Berend Westdijk/Bradley Kruger, Bernand Loots.

Umpires: Steve Davis(Australia) and Bruce Oxenford (Australia)

Time: 14.30 hours local (09.00 GMT)

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary

By Suneer Chowdhary

It was eight years back, when India had met Netherlands for the first time in an international. It remains the only occasion. India had gone into the game, with their batsmen having been battered by the Kiwis in the series immediately preceding the tournament and continued to cop flak after being bowled for 204. That India won that game hardly mattered to the critics because the common refrain was that the performance was as unconvincing as it could get against an Associate side.

Eight years on, India will play their second ODI against Netherlands at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi. And the expectations from both sides have changed drastically since their previous meeting. India were tipped to be one of the favourites to win the World Cup at the start, while Netherlands were expected to deliver an upset or two. Three games each and question-marks have been raised again; can India win the tournament and can the Dutch surprise some bigger side?

It is around the half-way stage in the World Cup and despite all the knives that have been pointed at India, they are currently at the top of the points table in their group. Partially, one can attribute this to their wins against the relatively weaker sides, Bangladesh and Ireland. However, the naysayers need to consider that both victories have come against sides which had scalped a Test-playing nation in the previous edition of the World Cup. The potential banana-peels had been avoided.

Gauging by the manner in which Netherlands have played in the tournament so far, the game should be a cakewalk for the home side. And then again, there are the vagaries of cricket that strike when complacency sets in. The Ireland-game had put the Indian batting under pressure and for some time it had exhibited a reasonable probability of wilting. Yuvraj Singh discovered his batting, MS Dhoni exhibited his ice-cool temperament and Yusuf Pathan gave the crowd what they hadn t seen in the first near-90 overs of the game to win India the match.

Then again, it is a matter of playing at the Feroz Shah Kotla, the home of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli. These were also the three of those who had failed to leave a mark against Ireland. Netherlands better beware of the troika.

The Dutch had fielded first against South Africa in a day-game as they had in the West Indies in a bid to exploit the early morning-moisture. However, the Dutch bowling which has had its chinks amongst the Associates saw them into cracks in these big-league games. It was quite clear that the best chance that they would have of running a top side close is to bat first, get a big one and hope that the pressure of the situation gets to the opposition.

The aforementioned tactic had almost worked for them against England. At least they ran the English close. The West Indies and South African losses were by 215 and 231 runs respectively.

Where the Indians have struggled is a no-brainer. Bowling has been their Achilles Heel. Despite a reasonable bowling performance in the Ireland game, the question-marks over Piyush Chawla s bowling had become catcalls for his removal. Harbhajan Singh s two wickets from three games does not compare well with Shahid Afridi s 14 from the same number of games. Munaf Patel has strung in a couple of reasonable ones while Zaheer Khan has been the only bowler whose incision has caused damage.

In a way, India have been lucky with the schedule, with three of their first four games against the inexperienced nations. This has allowed the bowling attack to get into their groove nicely before the sterner tests of the Amlas, de Villiers and Gayles of the world. In this game, it will be Ryan ten Doeschate they need to contend with, a batsman they have never bowled to.

India (Probable): Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (c&wk), Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravichandran Ashwin, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan

Netherlands (Probable): Alexei Kervezee, Wesley Baressi (wk), Tom Cooper, Bas Zuiderent, Tom de Grooth, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Peter Borren (c), Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar, Berend Westdijk/Bradley Kruger, Bernand Loots.

Umpires: Steve Davis(Australia) and Bruce Oxenford (Australia)

Time: 14.30 hours local (09.00 GMT)

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here: @suneerchowdhary)

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