Blistering knocks by West Indies top order batsmen Chris Gayle(80), Polard (60), Smith (53) and Ramnaresh Sarwan (49) and most impressive bowling spell by their speedster Kemar Roach (8.3-0-27-6), including the first hatrick of this edition of World Cup, made their victory over minnows Netherlands look so easy.
The Dutch team, who put up brave fight against England in their opener, however failed to prevent devastating West Indies batsmen firing their bowlers from all cylinders at New Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla stadium on Monday. Chris Gayle (80, 110 balls, 7×4, 2×6) and Devon Smith (53, 51b, 9×4) stitched a century opening stand to give the West Indies a solid start. Ramnaresh Sarwan (49) anchored the innings in the middle overs and Kieron Pollard (60 off 27 balls) provided the late charge. Pollard, who was promoted up the order in the absence of injured Dwayne Bravo, played a pulsating knock that included five fours and four towering sixes.
Undoubtedly, the Dutch bowlers lacked sting even as the Caribbean batsmen made merry on the very pitch where their batting had crumbled after the 40th over against South Africa on last Thursday. The pitch looked yet again good for batting and all the top five West Indies batsmen made the most of the opportunity by hitting fluent knocks. Only Darren Bravo (30) and Sarwan missed out on half centuries.
As the runs came thick and fast, the Dutch fielding also took a beating, marked by dropped catches and sloppy dives.
Smith, who was included as a last minute replacement for Adrian Barath, showed promise, smacking Mudassar Bukhari in the opening over for three fours. Gayle, who was expected to come good after his meek dismissal against South Africa, took time to settle down and his first five runs consumed 22 balls. He eventually cut lose. Yet, it was not a typical Gayle innings as the former captain chose to bide his time in the middle, curbing his aggressive instincts. It was only in the 23rd over that one got to see a shade of his usual self when he tonked Tom Cooper for two massive sixes over mid-off.
In contrast, Smith played a breezy innings, bringing up his half century in 45 balls with nine fours before he was caught behind while attempting to cut a low delivery off Bernard Loots. Darren, the star of West Indies’ previous match, looked in an ominous touch as he stroked two sixes, but his innings was cut short when he was caught at long-on by Alexie Kervezee while trying to loft Pieter Seelaar. Sarwan, who is returning to the side after a year battling form and injury, played a responsible knock, though he was lucky to survive when he was dropped by Bukhari on 13.
The Dutch perhaps, repenting for putting Windies into bat on winning the toss as batting under floodlights needs experience and guts. They collapsed like nine pins under the pace-cum-spin attack of West Indies. Young speedster Roach and spinner Smith bowled superbly to rock the Dutch ship with (6/27) and (2/ ) respectively. For West India, the victory against Dutch may help regain their confidence, yet they have tough encounters ahead against India and England in coming days.
With this comprehensive victory over Dutch, the Windies also bounced back from bottom of the Group B table to occupy third position. As on today, India and England occupy no. 1 and 2 positions as their match ended as tie on Sunday. But, this bound to change with upcoming South Africa-England on Saturday.