The brilliant men in orange

Adeel Raja, who bagged four Namibian wickets, picks up a stump-souvenir.-Pic. AFP

A contest between the minnows can have its own charm. The battles are often fierce and there is much pride involved. It was no different in the Group `A' clash between the Netherlands and Namibia at Bloemfontein. The sides without a point had more than a point to prove to each other.

A contest between the minnows can have its own charm. The battles are often fierce and there is much pride involved. It was no different in the Group `A' clash between the Netherlands and Namibia at Bloemfontein. The sides without a point had more than a point to prove to each other.

In the end, it was the more experienced Netherlands that carried the day, Jan Kloppenburg and Klaas van Noortwijk getting to hundreds and taking the score to 314 for four. Namibia threatened for a while, then the chase came unstuck, and the side was bowled out for 250.

In fact, it turned out to be a memorable outing for Kloppenburg, who after becoming the first Dutchman to score a hundred in one-day internationals scalped four Namibians with his seamers.

It was a hot day in Bloemfontein, and for Netherlands, it was a day of records, as the Namibian attack came under the sword. The men in Orange crossed the 300-run mark for the first time in ODIs, and the 228-run second wicket stand was the highest Dutch partnership for any wicket.

Edgar Schiferli fell early to seamer Rudi van Vuuren, and then the Namibians were sent on a leather hunt as Kloppenburg and Van Noortwijk went into their record-breaking spree. The Netherlands never had it so good.

Strangely, the Namibian bowling that over-performed against stronger sides like England and Pakistan, wilted against a much lesser team. There is, both, a lack of depth and experience in the Namibian attack, and the Dutchmen took heavy toll.

Kloppenburg (121, 142b, 6x4, 4x6), apart from producing some spanking strokes, ran quite superbly between the wickets. And Van Noortwijk (134, 129b, 11x4, 3x6), who batted on bravely despite being afflicted with cramps, added to the Namibian agony.

The Netherlands are hardly used to scores beyond 225, yet the partnership between the two men in orange, exceeded the regular team totals! Indeed, it was a day like no other for the Netherlands.

When Kloppenburg was eventually dismissed, his top-edged slash off Gerrie Snyman being taken by `keeper Melt van Schoor, Netherlands was already at a commanding 253. However, the side lost two quick wickets, Bas Zuiderent and Tim de Leede, falling in successive balls to Louis Burger.

Van Noortwijk then found a willing partner in Luuk van Troost and the two, gathering quick runs in the end overs, took the Netherlands past the 300-run mark, Van Vuuren, in particular, coming under severe punishment.

The situation demanded the Namibians to produce their best performance — they had never been beyond 300 before — and though the Southern Africans put in a whole-hearted effort, they were always bound to come up short.

The side was off to a rollicking start though, openers Jan-Berry Burger, a hard-hitter who has made quite an impression in the tournament, and Morne Karg, making 41 each — both were breezy efforts — before falling to pacemen Tim de Leede and Kloppenburg respectively.

There was a fine third wicket partnership between Danie Keulder (52, 67b, 2x4) and Gavin Murgatroyd (52, 62b, 4x4), the two adding 92, before Man of the Match Kloppenburg stepped in again, castling the former.

The score had just crossed 200 when Murgatroyd was consumed by Henk Mol, and the team soon lost its way, with wickets falling in a hurry. Kloppenburg sent back Louis Burger and Snyman off successive deliveries and then off-spinner Adeel Raja got into the act, picking up four wickets.

Raja is not a big spinner of the ball, but adheres to the basics and maintains a consistent length and line. He is just the kind of bowler who will find limited overs cricket to his liking.

The pressure of chasing a 300-plus target did tell on the Namibians and they succumbed. It was all over in the 47th over, when Van Vuuren fell to Raja, the score at 250. The Dutchmen were jubilant having got four points out of the only game where they had a realistic chance of winning.

However, this was a tournament where both these minnows took back happy memories, having learnt much from World Cup 2003 in Southern Africa. They had their moments too.

The scores:

Netherlands: J. Kloppenburg c Van Schoor b Snyman 121; E. Schiferli b Van Vuuren 10; K. Van Noortwijk (not out) 134; B. Zuiderent b L. Burger 5; T. De Leede b L. Burger 0; L. Van Troost (not out) 16; Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-18, nb-4) 28; Total (for four wickets in 50 overs) 314.

Fall of wickets: 1-25, 2-253, 3-270, 4-270.

Namibia bowling: Snyman 10-0-55-1, Van Vuuren 10-1-63-1, Van Rooi 8-0-59-0, L. Burger 10-1-49-2, A. J. Burger 3-0-18-0, D. Kotze 4-0-29-0, S. Burger 5-0-35-0.

Namibia: A. J. Burger c sub b Kloppenburg 41; M. Karg c sub b De Leede 41; D. Keulder b Kloppenburg 52; G. Murgatroyd c Zuiderent b Mol 52; D. Kotze lbw b Raja 25; L. Burger b Kloppenburg 1; G. Snyman c De Leede b Kloppenburg 0; S. Burger st. Smits b Raja 6; M. Van Schoor b Raja 15; B. Van Rooi (not out) 9; R. Van Vuuren c Mol b Raja 0; Extras (w-2, nb-1, lb-5) 8; Total (in 46.5 overs) 250.

Fall of wickets: 1-76, 2-87, 3-179, 4-209, 5-213, 6-213, 7-224, 8-237, 9-250.

Netherlands bowling: Schiferli 7-0-46-0, Esmeijer 7-0-43-0, De Leede 8-0-33-1, Kloppenburg 10-0-42-4, Raja 8.5-0-42-4, Mol 6-0-39-1.