Dutch win in a tense chase to kickstart T20 World Cup campaign

Max O'Dowd and Bas de Leede celebrate their win. Photo: Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images

The Netherlands 109 for 4 in 18.4 overs (O’Dowd 54*, Vikramjit 22, Airee 1-6) beat Nepal 106 all out (Paudel 35, Pringle 3-20, Van Beek 3-18) by six wickets

Three-wicket hauls from Tim Pringle and Logan van Beek complemented by Max O’Dowd’s measured half-century got the Netherlands over the line in a scrappy, tense chase by six wickets in their tournament opener against Nepal in Dallas.

Under overcast skies and on a green pitch, the conditions favoured the Dutch bowlers as they bowled Nepal out for 106 before a nervous chase that threatened to spill into the last over was superbly anchored by O’Dowd’s unbeaten 48-ball 54.

It helped that the Dutch won the toss, after a 30-minute rain delay, to put Nepal into bat with the pitch playing vastly different to the high-scoring tournament opener between USA and Canada. “We got a bit of a read of the wicket,” captain Scott Edwards said after the game.

Nepal, playing in their first T20 World Cup in a decade, garnered huge support. “I’m not sure whether we are in Nepal or Dallas”, van Beek said during the innings interval, referring to Nepal’s sea of blue and red cheering at the 7000-seater Grand Prairie Stadium.

With the Dutch playing only five frontline bowlers, having opted to go for a deeper batting line-up, the bowlers never let Nepal into the game. Viv Kingma and Van Beek found prodigious swing with the new ball applying pressure while left-arm spinner Tim Pringle enticed the batters by flighting the ball up and reaping rewards, returning with career-best figures of 3 for 20.

Rohit Paudel, the tournament’s youngest captain at 21, anchored Nepal’s innings with a 37-ball 35 as wickets fell regularly around him as the side floundered from 40 for 2 to 66 for 6 eventually crashing to 106 all out with four balls unused, their lowest total in only their second T20 World Cup campaign.

Seamers Paul van Meekeren and Bas de Leede played the role of middle-overs enforcers impressively, seeing off the middle-order by regularly banging length and back-of-a-length balls into the pitch to find movement off the deck. The duo picked two wickets apiece as part of a settled bowling template.

The Dutch response with the bat could have been a lot different had Nepal held on to their catches in the field, which ultimately proved to be the difference. As impressive as the Netherlands’ catching was, underpinned by running catches by Kingma and O’Dowd, Nepal’s was just as woeful: dropping Vikram Singh early on and later O’Dowd on 40, having also missed out on a run-out opportunity earlier.

After the early loss of Michael Levitt, Singh and O’Dowd batted sensibly, punishing full balls and with any width on offer to the boundary. But runs were harder to score once the field spread out and with Nepal’s bowlers operating a stump-to-stump line.

The middle-overs (overs 6-15) fetched only 49 runs as Nepal squeezed the chase into the death overs with the wickets of Singh (22 off 28), Sybrand Engelbrecht (14) and Edwards (5).

With 13 needed off the final two overs, O’Dowd expertly struck Bohara, who had conceded just 14 across his first three overs, for 4-6-4 to steer the Dutch home, ending a 40-ball boundary drought.

“I think every guy that came in kind of wanted me to keep batting, and I wanted to keep batting, but obviously with that big breeze, it was more selecting when we thought the right time would be to attack,” O’Dowd told a press conference.

“We needed six runs an over and I think we felt pretty comfortable going at six runs an over. We knew that there would be an over or two where we could get a couple of boundaries. Probably we left it a little bit late, but a win’s a win.”

The Netherlands travel to New York today ahead of their game against South Africa on Saturday (June 8) at 4:30pm CEST. All matches are live streamed on ICC.tv and NOS.

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