Pakistan starts Cricket World Cup 2023 with aplomb, beat Netherlands by 81 runs

Cricket World Cup 2023. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@ICC

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Hyderabad/IBNS: Pakistan went on to win by 81 runs against Netherlands in the second clash of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 here on Friday.

Hyderabad bore witness to a brilliant display from the Pakistan bowling attack in the second half of the Netherlands innings.

While the Dutch were still pretty much in their pursuit of 287 for victory until the 23rd over, the Men in Green struck at regular intervals thereafter to take the game away from them.

Haris Rauf was the pick of Pakistan bowlers, with his 3/43, while Hasan Ali picked up two wickets of his own.

In the first innings, Pakistan were all out for 286 in 49 overs. Their innings was powered by two big partnerships, for the fourth and seventh wicket respectively. Bas de Leede starred for the Dutch with his 4/62.

After the 20-over mark, Pakistan managed to get a grip of the game. Shadab Khan broke the threatening stand between Vikramjit Singh and de Leede in the 24th over. Vikramjit (52) swiped one towards the legside and ended up gifting a catch in the deep.

However, it was Rauf’s double-wicket over that truly brought the game back into Pakistan’s side. Rauf bounced out Teja Nidamanuru and then trapped the Dutch captain Scott Edwards in a space of three balls.

From the other end, de Leede waged a relentless battle and continued going for his shots. He reached his half-century in the 28th over. However, his lone struggle came to an end in the 34th over, when he was bowled by Mohammed Nawaz. De Leede scored 67 from 68, hitting six fours and two sixes during his innings.

Despite some lusty blows from the bat of Logan van Beek, the Netherlands tail was cleaned up by the 41 over mark.

Earlier, left-handed batter Vikramjit provided Netherlands a stable start. He hit a flurry of boundaries to get them to 28 without loss at the five over mark.

However, the Dutch lost a wicket soon after, when Max O’ Dowd (5) fell in an attempt to pull Hasan Ali for a six. All-rounder Colin Ackermann tried to keep the run flow going along with Vikramjit, but fell soon after the first Powerplay. He went for a sweep against Iftikhar Ahmed in the 12th over, and ended up missing the ball, which crashed into his middle stump.

De Leede arrived at No.4 and played an intent-driven knock to ensure that the Netherlands chase was on track, ICC reported.

After the midway stage of the Pakistan innings, Netherlands retained control with a flurry of wickets. Sensing a need to change the pace of Pakistan’s scoring rate, Scott Edwards summoned off-spinner Aryan Dutt back into the attack in the 29th over.

And the tweaker delivered immediately by getting the better of the dangerous Shakeel (68). Shakeel went for a sweep, but then checked his shot at the final moment. Ending up in two minds, the southpaw flicked the ball towards the mid-wicket region, where he was caught by Saqib Zulfiqar.

Not much later, Mohammed Rizwan was overcome by de Leede, who smashed straight into the top of his off stump. De Leede also had the dangerous Iftikhar Ahmed in the same over. Pakistan were six down at the end of the 32nd over.

Pakistan’s scoring rate took a hit, even as the late-order tried to rebuild the innings once more. Mohammed Nawaz and Shadab Khan took their time to settle in before lifting the scoring rate. Their 64 run stand came off 70 balls. It was ended by de Leede who cleaned up Shadab in the 44th over. De Leede trapped Hasan Ali lbw off the very next ball to further dent Pakistan.

Pakistan added 34 runs for the last two wickets but couldn’t finish their quota of overs. After having been 143/3 at the midway mark, Pakistan scored the exact same runs over the next 24 overs, while also losing their remaining wickets.

At the start of the innings, Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq found the going tough on a surface where the ball was holding its line on occasions and taking turns on others. Edwards got it right with his bowling combinations, alternating between spinners like Aryan Dutt and Colin Ackermann and the wily pace of Logan van Beek and Paul van Meekeren.

The result was three important wickets in the Powerplay overs. Fakhar was the first to go, falling for 12 after gifting van Beek a return catch. Babar’s stay at the crease was hardly satisfying, as the batter was buckled down by the Dutch spinners. He mistimed a pull against Ackermann and fell for five. Imam was the last to go, playing one shot too many and giving a catch to Aryan Dutt at fine leg in the 10th over.

The fourth wicket pair of Rizwan and Shakeel adopted an attacking policy to get the innings going once again, and found success in the initial stages of the second Powerplay. Between overs 11-20, Pakistan managed to score at just below run an over. There was a visible change of tactic, especially from Shakeel, who plundered a number of boundaries to reach his half-century off merely 32 balls. This is the second-fastest fifty for Pakistan in the history of the Men’s Cricket World Cup.

The duo brought up their 100-run partnership in the 25th over.

Netherlands skipper Scott Edwards called it right at the toss and the Dutch opted to field against Babar Azam’s Pakistan. Edwards took the call based on the belief that the wicket would probably ease under the lights. Pakistan have a perfect head-to-head record of 6-0 over Netherlands in the ODI format.

Abdullah Shafique, who featured in the warm-up fixtures leading into the tournament, found no place as Pakistan went for their usual top three, comprising Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam. In the bowling department, pacers Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf are supported by Hasan Ali, while Shadab Khan and Mohammed Nawaz are the spinners.

While Netherlands might not have the biggest of names, they have shown their mettle in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023. The Dutch don’t bank on one particular name, and this has shown in their recent triumphs, where players across the board have contributed. The European side are bolstered by the presence of a number of all-round options in their ranks.