The ground staff at the Greenfield International Stadium had a herculean task on Saturday. As it rained incessantly until afternoon, the toss was delayed; the Australian team did not turn up at the venue - anticipating that there won’t be a game.
When the rain stopped - around 4 o’clock - the ground staff stormed into action. The super sopper was brought in, the puddles on the outfield were cleared and by the time the clock turned six, the ground was ready.
Starting five hours behind the schedule, the warm-up fixture between The Netherlands and Australia ahead of the ODI World Cup was reduced to a 23-over-a-side affair, but the latter rode on Steve Smith’s gritty half-century (55, 42b, 4x4, 3x6) and Mitchell Starc’s hat-trick (3 for 18) to dominate the evening before a late-night torrential rain led to the abandonment of the fixture without a result.
Australia rested a few players and it was a last opportunity to test its bench strength, and the five-time ODI World Cup-winning side would be satisfied with this exercise. Opting to bat, it experimented quite a bit - promoting Smith to open the innings, while bringing in Marnus Labuschagne at No. 9 - but still, Australia managed to put up 166 for 7, before Starc ripped apart The Netherlands’ top-order.
The Dutchmen crumbled against Starc’s in-swingers and sheer pace and were reeling at 84 for 6 when rain brought an abrupt end to the game. However, its bowlers did a commendable job earlier in the evening, restricting Australia to a modest total.
Smith opened the innings with Josh Inglis, but the move backfired as the latter was cleaned up by Logan van Beek on a duck. As the Dutchmen celebrated the early success, Smith rebuilt the innings with a 57-run stand with Alex Carey. Smith initially rotated the strike with singles, whereas Carey pushed the pedal - hitting a four and six off Aryan Dutt and Van Beek respectively.
Australia cruised until the eighth over, before the seasoned van der Merwe crashed Carey’s off-stump, and The Netherlands got another success as Glenn Maxwell, too, fell quickly.
But Smith did not lose the plot. He upped his game and hammered three sixes - off the spinners - and stitched a much-needed 35-run stand with Alex Carey (28, 25b, 3x4, 1x6). They seemed to be in no hurry to score runs, and played by the merit of the ball. Smith kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and twos before being stumped off a van der Merwe delivery - shortly after reaching his half-century. Once Smith was back in the dugout, The Netherlands put up a miserly bowling display, allowing Australia’s lower middle-order to score only 65 runs in nine overs.
The Netherlands had hopes of chasing down the total, but Starc gave them a reality check - dismissing Max O’Dowd and Wesley Barresi in two consecutive deliveries in the opening over. He jolted further on the first ball of his second over, rattling Bas de Leede’s midddle-stump to complete his hat-trick.
With its top-order folding up early, The Netherlands reeled under pressure. Though Colin Ackermann took an effort to rebuild, he fought a lone battle.
- Indian sports news wrap, November 24
- India A squad for Women’s T20I series against England A announced
- China Masters 2023: Satwik-Chirag pair reaches semifinals; Prannoy loses in quarterfinals
- Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius granted parole, to be released from prison on January 5
- F1: Horner says it was Hamilton’s father who approached him