New Delhi: The Men in Blue followed up their nail-biting victory last week against archrivals Pakistan with a comfortable 56-run win Thursday over Scott Edwards’ Netherlands side in the ongoing T20 World Cup.
While the BCCI’s welcome announcement of an equal-fee policy for India’s men and women cricketers overshadowed the pre-match proceedings, the story of the game itself featured a trio of half-centuries for India batsmen and complete domination by India’s powerplay pace bowlers at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
With the win resulting in a major net run rate increase for India ahead of a critical Super 12 encounter with tournament heavyweights South Africa, ThePrint takes a look at some key talking points.
1- Scratchy Rohit and quiet Virat set the platform
India’s total of 179-2 was well beyond the Netherlands’ reach but it is also the lowest total India have scored in T20Is when losing just 2 wickets. The reason for that was some largely disciplined bowling and smart tactics employed by the Netherlands, particularly in the powerplay. Their ground fielding was solid and the seam attack frequently varied its pace and bowled length balls into the pitch, rarely giving India’s top order enough width to play with. But as they failed to take other chances and didn’t have much luck with the finer margins of top-level T20 cricket, Rohit and Virat gradually adapted to the SCG pitch and began to counterattack. Developing a partnership of 73 off 56 balls, the senior duo mostly knocked the ball around for ones and twos, with the odd boundary to prevent the Dutch bowlers from gaining the upper hand.
2- SKY finally shows off his 360 degree skills in ICC tournament
He’s done it for years in the IPL, he’s done it in 2022 for India in bilateral T20Is and the Asia Cup. And now, relative late bloomer Suryakumar Yadav has come to the party at an ICC tournament, scoring his first fifty in six appearances at this level. While both the Indian and Dutch batting innings were slow to get going in the powerplay, Suryakumar was the real difference maker. The innings featured Suryakumar’s classic pickup shots, cover drives and playful-yet-aggressive manipulation of the field. He hit seven fours and capped off the innings with an effortless shot over deep backward square leg. Striking at 200 and accelerating on the foundations built by Rohit and Virat, Suryakumar batted the Dutch out of the game, turning India’s potential score from competitive to match-winning.
3- KL Rahul’s second failure
While three of India’s star batsmen made meaningful contributions against the tournament’s lowest-ranked side, the odd man missing out was opener and vice-captain K.L. Rahul. Having already been worked over by young Pakistani quick Naseem Shah in India’s opening match, Rahul needed to regain some confidence by scoring big against the Dutch. Barring a solitary boundary scored from a drive towards mid-off against the bowling of Fred Klaasen, Rahul showed little intent to score. By the third over, he had played out seven dots against the Dutch attack and was kept quiet by both Tim Pringle and Paul Van Meekeren, before falling to the latter. Van Meekeren bowled a peach of a delivery that angled in, rapping Rahul on his pads. Although it did not look an obvious stonewall wicket, Rahul’s decision to not review and simply walk away summed up his first week at the T20 World Cup.
4- Axar makes instant impact in favourable match-up
He only got a solitary over against Pakistan, during which he was bludgeoned down the ground by Iftikhar Ahmed. But today, left-arm spinner Axar Patel reaped the rewards of a favourable match-up, as he faced a right-hand heavy batting order with a penchant for attempting sweep shots against all kinds of spinners. Axar may not be a big turner of the ball, but his darters, arm-balls, height and trajectory are features, not bugs, as explained by cricket analyst Himanish Ganjoo. Sure enough, on the second ball of his first over in the powerplay, Axar dismissed the Netherlands’ most prolific batsman, Max O’Dowd, who tried to sweep a full and straight ball that pitch on off and middle stump.
5- Steep learning curve for three Dutch youngsters
As stated by captain Scott Edwards during the post-match presentation and Max O’Down on Twitter a few days earlier, the Netherlands were stoked to gain valuable experience from a high-profile occasion against a top international side in front of a crowd that they were not otherwise used to. Although they made a good effort given the gulf in finances available to the two sides, the occasion proved to be a steep learning curve for many of the younger members of the Dutch lineup, except for the exuberant Shariz Ahmad.
Our T20 World Cup preview predicted the tournament was a few years too early for explosive opener Vikramjit Singh and that has been evident from his returns against Test-playing nations. Today, he failed to punish a pedestrian opening over from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and gave away a maiden before playing a tame pull shot to get bowled in Bhuvneshwar’s second over.
Meanwhile, allrounders Bas de Leede and Tim Pringle have been among the Netherlands’ top performers of the tournament but looked out of their depth against India. De Leede was punished by India’s batters for some wayward lines and lengths and failed to hit the ball off the square in a boundary-less innings of 16 off 23 balls, while Pringle dropped a regulation catch off Klaasen’s bowling that would have dismissed Rohit Sharma and put the Dutch well on top. Instead, Sharma recovered to record a half-century and the Netherlands’ big chance to record a potential upset went a begging.
Brief scores: India 179-2 [Virat Kohli 62* (44); Paul Van Meekeren 1-32] beat the Netherlands 123-9 [Tim Pringle 20 (15); Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-9] by 56 runs.
Also read: Kohli’s vintage innings lead India to 4-wicket win over Pakistan — 5 key moments from today