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Another inspired performance from Yuvraj Singh took India to a comfortable 5-wicket victory against the Netherlands in a Group B clash in the ICC Cricket World Cup. The Punjabi south-paw took 2 wickets and scored his third straight half century of the tournament to bag the Man of the Match award for the second game in succession. India bowled out Netherlands for a modest 189 with the bowlers chipping in with the wickets between them. Captain Peter Borren top scored with 38 and despite a number of top order batsmen getting starts, the Dutch never really threatened to cut lose. India raced to 80/1 in 9 overs to start their chase, but a flood of wickets stemmed the scoring rate. India eventually got home in 36.3 overs, with Yuvraj and MS Dhoni seeing them through in the end.
Netherlands won the toss and decided to bat first on a pitch which was called as flat as a national highway by Sunil Gavaskar during his pitch report. Both teams had made a change each to their squads from the previous game with India calling up local boy Ashish Nehra in place of Munaf Patel, while the Netherlands replaced a bowler with a batsman, giving opening batsman Eric Szwarczynski his first game of the series. India opened with Zaheer Khan and Nehra but realized early that there was nothing on offer for the medium pacers and Dhoni brought Yusuf Pathan and Harbhajan Singh into the attack within the first powerplay.
Netherlands had a circumspect start with Szwarczynski and Wesley Barresi focusing on preserving their wickets. They scored just 38 runs in the first 10 overs and both batsmen got through the bowling powerplay as well, pushing the score along to 56 runs in the first 15 overs. Underfire leg spinner Piyush Chawla gave India the breakthrough in the 16th over whenÂ·Szwarczynski (28) was bowled by a googly that he failed to pick. The slow innings of wicket keeper Wesley Barresi soon followed his partner back to the pavilion for 26 as Yuvraj Singh celebrated his 100th wicket in ODIs. The leg before decision was asked to be reviewed by Barresi but the appeal was struck down.
Ryan ten Doeschate and Tom Cooper, two of the Netherlands' best batsmen were in the middle together, but they too focused on building a partnership and struggled to get the spinners away. The run rate fell further and was heading closer to 3 than 4. Ten Doeschate tried to break the shackles by hitting Yuvraj out of the ground but was caught on the boundary for 11.
Dhoni then showed he was right on the money as he brought Ashish Nehra and Zaheer Khan back into the attack five overs before the ball was to be changed in an attempt to extract what little reverse swing was on offer. Nehra made his skipper look like a genius as got the big wicket of Cooper (29) with the first delivery of that spell Zaheer then removed Bas Zuiderent, who didn't disturb the scorers.
Wickets kept on falling and some silly runouts added to their woes. Finally Captain Peter Borren decided to take the batting powerplay which proved fruitful for the Dutch. Borren and Mudassar Bukhari hit a few mighty blows to take Netherlands close to 200. But Zaheer came back for his third spell and dismissed both batsmen in the same over to wrap up Netherlands' innings for 189. Netherlands scored 42 runs in the batting powerplay before getting bowled out and Dhoni's decision to bowl Piyush Chawla and Harbhajan Singh in it proved to be a poor decision. Harbhajan finished wicket-less once again, a massive disappointment for India's leading spinner, while Chawla went for 17 runs in his final over to ruin his figures.
Virender Sehwag started the chase in typical fashion, hitting the first ball of the innings to the boundary. Sachin Tendulkar joined in the early fun, hitting two boundaries of his own in the second over bowled by Ten Doeschate. The runs kept flowing freely and India looked on course for an early finish when Ten Doeschate was hit for three fours in a row by Tendulkar, thus bringing up an incredible 2000 runs in World Cups for the legendary batsman.
Sehwag tried to match Tendulkar as he hit Bukhari for three boundaries in the following over, the last of which was a hot chance to the fielder at mid-on. The Netherlands were forced to take pace off the ball and brought on Pieter Seelar, to try and buy themselves a wicket, Tendulkar was on strike though, and the over conceded just 6 runs. Sehwag continued his onslaught in the following over, hitting Bukhari for a six over midwicket. Sehwag then took on the left arm spinner, hitting a six and four off consecutive deliveries before finally perishing trying to clear the infield once again. His brief burst of 39 had pushed India well above the asking rate and India looked to continue the momentum by promoting Yusuf Pathan up to no.3.
Pathan slapped the first ball he faced to the boundary and then massive six over square leg off Peter Borren and it looked as if the match wouldn't last 25 overs. But Seelar came back very well picking two prized wickets of Tendulkar and Pathan in the same over. Tendulkar (27) tried to hit a six but sliced it to long off where Kruger took a good catch. Pathan (11) then gave a simple catch straight to Seelar and India were in bit of a bother at 82/3.
The Netherlands smelled a chance for an upset when Kohli was bowled by Borren for 12 and at 99/4, there was still plenty of work to be done by the hosts. Gautam Gambhir looked very confident in the middle and Yuvraj rotated the strike well. Gambhir struck three boundaries on his way to a run a ball 28 before he was bowled around his legs by Bukhari and Netherlands still had an outside shot at an upset. Indians couldn't get a run for 16 balls after the dismissal, but Yuvraj took charge of the situation and saw India home with plenty of overs remaining.Â·
India made a bit of a meal of their chase and will be relieved that cool heads prevailed and they did not throw the game away in the end. They have some tough opposition to follow whenÂ·they take on South Africa this Saturday at Nagpur in a match that could well decide who gets to top Group B. TheÂ·Netherlands meanwhile appear to fare better against the stronger teams and will be desperate to pick up their first victory of this World Cup when they travel to Bangladesh to face the co-hosts on Monday at Chittagong.
Netherlands: Eric Szwarczynski, Wesley Barresi (wk), Tom Cooper, Ryan ten Doeschate, Alexei Kervezee, Bas Zuiderent, Tom de Grooth, Peter Borren (c), Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar, Bradley Kruger
India: Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(wk & c), Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Piyush Chawla, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra
Netherlands 189 all out in 46.4 overs (4.05 runs per over)
P Borren 38(36) Z Khan 3-20
T Cooper 29(47) Y Singh 2-43
India 191/5 in 36.3 overs (5.23 runs per over)
Y Singh 51*(73) P Seelar 3-53
V Sehwag 39(26) P Borren 1-33
India won by 5 wickets with 13.3 overs remaining
File Photograph Copyright: ICC World T20
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