Brief scores: India 179 for 2 (Kohli 62*, Rohit 53, Suryakumar 51*) beat Netherlands 123 for 9 (Bhuvneshwar 2-9, Axar 2-18) by 56 runs
India produced a dominant all-round display in front of 36,000 spectators at the famed Melbourne Cricket Ground to beat the Netherlands by 56 runs and top Group A of the T20 World Cup.
After overcoming a slow start on a two-paced pitch, half-centuries of various approaches from Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav propelled India to 179-2. Barring cameos, the Dutch batters failed to show up and responded with a paltry 123-9.
Having opted to bat first, the Indian batters struggled to put away the Dutch bowlers. Paul van Meekeren struck early to rap KL Rahul on the pads but Sharma was let off by a costly dropped catch by Tim Pringle.
Once set, Sharma hit a 39-ball 53 before holing out to Colin Ackermann off Fred Klaassen. His dismissal didn’t stem the run-flow as Kohli and Yadav put on a 95-run partnership as the latter brought up a 25-ball half-century. Kohli, in contrast, batted with composure for a 44-ball 62. Despite the total, there was a lingering feeling of appreciation for the Dutch bowlers.
‘I’m very proud about how we went about it,’ Van Meekeren said after the game. ‘Them being one down. It could have been a lot more. We could have panicked and lost our heads, but I think all the bowlers stayed very clear on what they wanted to do.’
In response, the Dutch chase fell apart with regular loss of wickets and at 89-7, they were in danger of being bowled out for a double-digit score, if not for the late flurry of boundaries by Shariz Ahmad and Van Meekeren. Pringle top-scored with a 20 but his six off Ravichandran Ashwin, stepping down the ground to swing it over long-on, gave the Dutch fans a moment to rejoice.
The match was the first-ever T20 between the two nations and only their third meeting after clashes at the 2003 and 2011 editions of the 50-over World Cup. Speaking at the post-match press conference, Van Meekeren provided food-for-thought for the more-professional test nations to tour Netherlands in order to boost the quality of International cricket.
In the soon-to-be-discontinued ODI Super League, the Dutch ran West Indies and Pakistan close in several games over a competitive home summer to prove the growing depth in International cricket.
Pay to train
‘We’ve got guys in the changing room who pay to go to their own trainings and only get paid when we go on tour and play games in Holland,’ Van Meekeren said, pointing to the wide gulf between India and the Netherlands, not just professionally in terms of exposure but also financially.
‘I think this year hopefully we showed how good the wickets are in Holland. I think the practice wickets were outstanding back home, and we played some competitive games.
‘So there’s no reason why test teams can’t come to Holland instead of playing the counties. And hopefully as a non-cricketing nation, these big players can walk the streets without being recognized so they have more freedom playing in Holland. We’ve got the facilities.’
‘We can be as competitive as playing the warm-up game against other counties. Why not come to Holland for ten days before they travel to England?’
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