The minnows too had a point

Australia got four vital points from the match to take its tally to 12, but Ricky Ponting's team was extremely lucky not to share four points with the Netherlands.


AUSTRALIA defeated the Netherlands by 75 runs — the Duckworth-Lewis formula increasing its total to 197 from the 170 it actually made — in a shortened match. The Dutch were bowled out for 122 and the difference in the runs scored by the two sides was only 48. Australia got four vital points from the match to take its tally to 12, but Ricky Ponting's team was extremely lucky not to share four points with the Netherlands.

Australia's Damien Martyn plays a sweep shot during his unbeaten 67 against the Netherlands. — Pic. AP-

The Australian captain himself was quick to praise the Dutch for agreeing to play in conditions that were not up to the mark. "Full credit to the Dutch boys. They turned up and wanted to play. The wicket wasn't 100 per cent good. So, full credit to them for wanting to play the game. We decided to get through those last eight overs without losing any wicket as we thought that would give us a decent enough score to defend as the game went on," Ponting said. The Dutch skipper Roland Lefebvre was happy that his side was able to make a contest of it against the world champion. "I think we played very well. It was enjoyable for everyone. It was the one game everyone wanted to play in and I think it showed. I hope we can carry this on. This is the reason why we are here, to learn and to enjoy ourselves and we certainly did that today. We worked hard and I was very proud of the way our bowlers handled the conditions in the morning. We kept a very disciplined line to restrict Australia."

The tie was the second of the World Cup matches scheduled at Potchefstroom. The possibility of play starting looked bleak because the overnight rain had rendered the outfield wet.

But the ground staff rose to the occasion and in spite of rain interrupting play three times, they were in readiness all the time to set things right so that the match could be completed to get a result. The Gauteng Police offered their helicopter to dry up the outfield and the pitch and the umpires were able to start play one hour behind schedule.

Australia's innings was interrupted two times and its batsmen could never really raise the tempo on a damp surface, but Damien Martyn and Darren Lehmann handled the Netherlands bowlers pretty well and took the total to 170 in 36 overs.

The Netherlands did not want to lose the opportunity of playing an Australian representative side for the first time in 38 years and was ready to play the match in the available conditions. The match officials did their bit to make sure everything was in order.

The team had several meetings and the Dutch players were unanimous that only by going out on the field and playing the game against Australia would give them the enjoyment of competing against the world champion. Somehow water got spilled on the pitch while the covers were being removed. Nobody indulged in any blame-game. The Dutch just wanted to play. `"Those for playing' asked our coach and 15 hands went up. We would do the same again against Pakistan,"' said Lefebvre.

Australia on its part decided to rest some of its key players such as Adam Gilchrist and Brett Lee, but in the eleventh hour included both Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie. The two did not even bowl flat out against the opposition, which replied with 122 in 30.2 overs, Tim de Leede making the highest score of 24. Ian Harvey and Andy Bichel shared six wickets.

The top-scorer for Australia, Martyn, was lucky to survive the first ball he faced. De Leede who took two wickets was a trifle late in attempting a catch off his own bowling.

But after this escape, Martyn played some lovely shots on either side of the wicket. "I had a bit of luck out there but in the end it was good to spend some time in the middle after it appeared as if we would not play at all today," he said.

Martyn and Lehmann were intent on protecting their wickets and made 47 off 48 balls after the umpires reduced the match to 36 overs following the third break. No one was sure about how the Duckworth-Lewis formula would work out and Australia did not want to take any chance. It kept its wickets intact and eventually saw the umpires revising the target to 197.

The Netherlands batsmen threw their bat around, but found the target stiff. Some of the Dutch players such as left-arm spinner Jacob Jan Esmeijer and Lefebvre made a fine impression. Stumper Jeroen Smits stood up to the wicket and said he wanted to do his bit standing there and applying pressure. It was a tactical move. But in the end the Dutch were soundly beaten.

The scores:

Australia: J. Maher c Van Bunge b De Leede 26; M. Hayden c Schiferli b De Leede 33; D. Martyn (not out) 67; D. Lehmann (not out) 29. Extras (b-4, lb-3, w-8) 15. Total (for two wkts. in 36 overs) 170.

Fall of wickets: 1-52, 2-103.

The Netherlands bowling: Schiferli 7-0-42-0, Lefebvre 8-2-19-0, De Leede 7-0-34-2, Kloppenburg 7-0-32-0, Esmeijer 5-0-16-0, Van Bunge 2-0-20-0.

The Netherlands: L. Van Troost c Bichel b Lehmann 23; D. Van Bunge c Martyn b Gillespie 1; B. Zuiderent c Maher b Gillespie 5; K. Van Noortwijk lbw b Lehmann 13; T. De Leede c Maher b Bichel 24; R. Scholte lbw b Bichel 8; E. Schiferli b Harvey 9; F. Kloppenburg c Ponting b Bichel 9; R. Lefebvre (not out) 14; J. Smits c Maher b Harvey 0; J. Esmeijer c Ponting b Harvey 0. Extras (lb-4, w-11, nb-1) 16. Total (in 30.2 overs) 122.

Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-18, 3-42, 4-59, 5-85, 6-90, 7-96, 8-112, 9-118.

Australia bowling: McGrath 3-1-10-0, Gillespie 3-0-7-2, Lehmann 8-0-27-2, Symonds 7-0-36-0, Bichel 5-0-13-3, Harvey 4.2-0-25-3.