Though it was hard earned, yet looked comfortable at the end. India beat Netherlands in their fourth Group B league match at Feroze kotla grounds on Wednesday to retain its top position.
Netherlands, which proved nightmare to England in their encounter with their stiff resistance before losing, however failed to put up same show with India. Though, Pieter Seelar took three quick wickets to set India back early as they chased Netherlands` total of 189 with some anxious moments among their supporters..
Having reached 69 for no loss in 7.3 overs as Sachin and Sehwag made merry, left arm spinner Seelar struck thrice in 14 balls to send them reeling to 82 for 3 in 9.5 overs. It was Sehwag who fell first, driving Seelar to Alexei Kervezee for 39 off 26 balls, with 5 fours and 2 sixes while Sachin Tendulkar followed quickly in the same over, holing out to Bradley Kruger for 27 off 22 balls with 6 fours. Most disappointing was Yusuf Pathan, who had be promoted to number three by skipper with the task to accomplish the total with ease, too followed in the same over – caught and bowled by Seelar for 11 off 10 balls with a four and a six.
The loss of quick wickets continued at regular intervals as India lost Virat Kohli in the 15th over, bowled Peter Borren for 12 off 20 balls and Gautam Gambhir went in the 24th over, for 28 off 28 balls, leaving India in a spot of bother at 139 for 5.
Indian skipper, MS Dhoni joined Yuvraj Singh and the two calmed things down with a sedate and mature unbeaten partnership of 52 for the sixth wicket to take India home with 81 balls remaining. Yuvraj Singh was unbeaten on 51 runs off 73 balls with 7 fours. Dhoni remanined unbeaten on 19 off 40 balls.
Earlier, India`s spinners strangled Netherlands` batsmen on a lifeless pitch as the World Cup co-host bowled its struggling opponent out for 189 in 46.4 overs in after Netherlands won the toss and opted to bat..
Slow left-armer Yuvraj Singh took 2-43 to pass 100 wickets in one day internationals and legspinner Piyush Chawla claimed 2-47 as the Dutch were pegged back after a half-century opening stand between Eric Szwarczynski (28) and Wesley Barresi (26).
Captain Peter Borren hit three fours and two sixes and top scored with 38 to give the total some respectability with his late runs but Zaheer Khan mopped up the tail with 3-20. India bowled spin for 24 consecutive overs from the sixth to tie down the batters and having opted to bat first, Netherlands collapsed from 99-2 to 108-6 as it tried to accelerate.
Borren’s 38-run partnership with Mudassar Bukhari (21) carried the Dutch to 189 as India’s under-fire bowlers threatened to undo their earlier good work, before Khan came to the rescue. Fellow seamer Ashish Nehra finished with 1-22 and bowled just five overs on his recall to India’s team in place of Munaf Patel.
Szwarczynski and Barresi had initially frustrated India’s bowling attack with their opening stand as Netherlands began steadily on a pitch offering no help for the seamers.
Nehra was allowed just one over in his first spell before being replaced by offspinner Yusuf Pathan.
Szwarczynski hit four boundaries in his first match at the tournament, and Barresi struck two, but the openers were out in quick succession as India’s slow bowlers cut off the runs and applied the pressure. Szwarczynski was bowled by Chawla and Barresi fell lbw to a skiddy delivery in slow leftarmer Yuvraj’s first over to give him his 100th ODI wicket.
The Dutch continued to crawl along and were yet to reach 100 in the 29th over when Ryan ten Doeschate’s desperate attempt to lift the scoring failed when he holed out to a catch by Khan on the long-off boundary for Yuvraj’s second wicket. Nehra struck with his first ball on his return to the attack next over when Cooper edged behind. And with the Dutch middle order exposed, Khan also benefited in his first over back with the wicket of Bas Zuiderent, lbw for a duck.
Tom de Grooth was run out by sharp work from Chawla at short midwicket and Netherlands flopped from 99-2 to 108-6 in six overs and never recovered. Borren, coming in at No. 8 in a reshuffled Netherlands batting order, swung away two huge sixes in a mini-fightback. He found support from Bukhari, who also hoisted to sixes into the crowd, as Netherlands finally found some boundaries at the end.
Borren popped up a catch to Nehra at backward square leg to give Khan his second wicket and Bukhari was bowled by the fast man as Netherlands failed to bat out its overs.
With this win, India is confident to take on Australia and Sri Lanka in their last two encounters, which will decide the Group B line up.