Cricket: Dutch face elimination with seven-wicket defeat

Max O'Dowd of Netherlands is run out .Photo: ICC via Getty Images

A dismal middle-order collapse with the bat saw the Netherlands slump to a seven-wicket defeat against Afghanistan at the World Cup in Lucknow on Friday.

Sybrand Engelbrecht played a lone hand of 58 but couldn’t prevent the Dutch crumbling to 179 in the 47th over with as many as four batters run-out.

Set 180 to win, half-centurions Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi added 74 for the third wicket to help Afghanistan surge to their fourth win of the tournament with 18.3 overs to spare and keep their semi-final hopes alive.

This was the Netherlands’ fifth loss in seven games and while they are not mathematically out of the reckoning for a semi-final berth, they need to win their remaining two games against England and India by big margins and rely on other results going their way.

With the added context of the top eight teams at this tournament qualifying for the Champions Trophy hosted by Pakistan in 2025, the Netherlands, who are currently placed eighth in the points table, will either need one more win or hope England and Bangladesh don’t usurp them on points and net run-rate.

Having won the toss and opting to bat first, the Dutch cruised to their best start in the first batting powerplay in the tournament by reaching 66-1 in ten overs.

Opener Max O’Dowd, who hit nine boundaries in his 42-run knock, capitalised on some poor new-ball bowling to mark his return to form but his run-out in the 12th over sparked a familiar collapse that saw his side slip from an advantageous 73-1 to 97-5 before crashing to 179.

The Dutch were left to rue their sloppy running between the wickets as four of the top five batters were run out, including captain Scott Edwards off his first ball.

For a team that prides itself for running between the wickets, the Netherlands have lost nine wickets to run-outs, the worst in this tournament.

“Our turning technique and our running between the wickets in terms of the speed and stuff, we do a lot of training on that,” the Dutch head coach Ryan Cook said after the game.

“Obviously today, four run-outs – and not just any run-outs, No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 in your batting order getting run out – is not ideal.”

“So yeah, we’ll have to go back and have a look at that, but it won’t stop us, it is part of the DNA of our team and we’ll keep trying to run between the wickets and value every run like we do.”

Engelbrecht, who was dropped twice in succession behind the wicket, gritted out his second half-century off 86 balls to become the Netherlands’ leading run-scorer at the tournament, going past Edwards’ tally of 204 runs.

Little pressure

Off-spinner Mohammad Nabi was the pick of the bowlers, with his 3 for 28, part of a frugal four-prong spin bowling attack for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s chase, watched on by a healthy crowd of over 20,000, was punctuated by disciplined batting and low-risk shots as the Dutch failed to exert much scoreboard pressure.

After opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz gloved Logan van Beek down the leg side to Edwards and Ibrahim Zadran was bowled off Roelof van der Merwe’s first delivery after the powerplay, Rahmat Shah and skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi took control of the chase at 55-2 and added 74 runs.

By the time leg-spinning all-rounder Saqib Zulfiqar, in the team for opener Vikramjit Singh, caught Rahmat Shah off his own bowling for his maiden scalp of the tournament, Afghanistan were only 51 runs in the arrears and were knocked off with ease with 111 deliveries unused.

The Netherlands will now take on bottom-placed England in a must-win clash in Pune on Wednesday, November 8 (9:30AM CEST).

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