Wasim Akram's feat

AFTER Pakistan beat Holland by 97 runs, the 40-year-old Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre made a statement that certainly would not have sounded pleasant for Sourav Ganguly's India, Waqar Younis' Pakistan and Nasser Hussain's England.

G. VISWANATH

AFTER Pakistan beat Holland by 97 runs, the 40-year-old Dutch captain Roland Lefebvre made a statement that certainly would not have sounded pleasant for Sourav Ganguly's India, Waqar Younis' Pakistan and Nasser Hussain's England. Lefebvre said that none of the three teams was capable of winning the World Cup. He further said one of the three in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa would win it on March 23.

Wasim Akram gets a bear hug from 'keeper Rashid Latif for claiming his 500th wicket. The victim was Nick Statham. — Pic. AFP-

Holland had lost against all the three teams that Lefebvre claimed would not win the Cup. The European team bowled out India in under 50 overs for 204 and restricted Pakistan to 253. Lefebvre was a professional with Somerset and Glamorgan for many years, has a sound knowledge of the game and hence can be relied upon for his views as a commentator.

Lefebvre's comments were based on the performances of the batsmen of the three sides, the latest being those of Pakistan. The Pakistanis had looked extremely shaky after their 112-run defeat against England at Newlands. Pakistan sent out a new pair to open the innings and shuffled the batting order, and yet did not show a significant improvement.

Pakistan's chief cause for concern has been the poor form of Inzamam-ul-Haq, the fourth highest run-getter in one-day internationals. He might have been a trifle unlucky to be given leg before by S. Venkataraghavan, but only the slow motion replay suggested that he might have managed to get bat to the ball. So the umpire was not really at fault.

Pakistan made 253 runs which did not make the captain happy. "We should have got 300 on that wicket. And then we did not bowl that well and gave away so many easy runs through extras. Perhaps we were a little lethargic playing against a weaker side, but there are a few things we have got to improve. Inzy has been one of Pakistan's best batsmen who has performed brilliantly. Hopefully, he will get some more runs in the next game and against India,'' said Younis.

At the top of the order left-hander Taufeeq Umar hit some delightful shots and looked good to play a long innings and impress in only his second World Cup match. He began with a lucky inside edge off Lefebvre, but thereafter struck five clean shots off Edgar Schiferli, Lucas Van Troost and left-arm spinner Jacob-Jan Esmeijer.

Waqar's decision to promote Abdul Razzaq had the desired result in one way, but was disappointing in another. Razzaq had proved to be an able batsman in English conditions in 1999 and was untroubled by the Holland medium-pace attack. But the purpose of his promotion — which was to get Inzamam back into form — was not achieved.

Pakistan's most consistent batsman in the last five years, Yousuf Youhana, finally took the responsibility and steered his team to a safe total. Man of the Match Youhana, Rashid Latif and Shoaib Akhtar contributed a 100 runs together, but it was a credit to the Holland bowlers that they bowled to their field and restricted the strong Pakistan team to a total that was not formidable in the least.

Lefebvre, who took his 200th wicket for Holland, was pleased with his side's bowling performance. "The team was competitive and was not rolled over or thrashed by the big teams. It is a big plus that we could take 19 wickets in the big matches (against India and Pakistan). The lack of pace bowling in the league back home and the high quality of spin in this World Cup have found us wanting a bit in the batting department,'' said Lefebvre.

Holland's batting did not even last 40 overs. It was bowled out for 156 with Akhtar taking three wickets and Wasim Akram also crossing the milestone of 500 wickets in his 354th one-day international. Akram's feat — which came when he bowled Nick Statham — was indeed a high point of the match.

At the Press Conference he said he was relieved on achieving the feat. "I felt a lot of pressure. In fact, I could hardly sleep last night. I was as nervous as any young sportsman ahead of a big game. I'm very excited but in the end what matters is that Pakistan should qualify for the Super Six. I would like to dedicate this to all the people who have supported me in the last 18 years,'' said Akram stating that Imran Khan and Javed Miandad were his mentors in his first years in international cricket.

The scores:

Pakistan: Taufeeq Umar (run out) 48; Saeed Anwar c Esmeijer b De Leede 25; Abdul Razzaq c Smits b Van Bunge 47; Inzamam-ul-Haq lbw b De Leede 0; Yousuf Youhana b Lefebvre 58; Saleem Elahi c Zuiderent b Van Bunge 5; Rashid Latif c Van Bunge b Schiferli 24; Wasim Akram (run out) 1; Shoaib Akhtar (not out) 26; Waqar Younis c & b Mol 1; Saqlain Mushtaq (not out) 3; Extras (lb-9, w-6) 15; Total (for nine wickets in 50 overs) 253.

Fall of wickets: 1-61, 2-107, 3-108, 4-143, 5-153, 6-192, 7-196, 8-238, 9-245.

Netherlands bowling: Schiferli 10-1-48-1, Lefebvre 10-1-39-1, De Leede 10-0-53-2, Van Troost 2-0-18-0, Esmeijer 10-0-35-0, Van Bunge 4-0-27-2, Mol 4-0-24-1.

Netherlands: N. Statham b Wasim Akram 0; E. Schiferli c Abdul Razzaq b Shoaib Akhtar 9; B. Zuiderent lbw b Waqar Younis 8; K. Van Noortwijk c Rashid Latif b Wasim Akram 7; T. De Leede c Shoaib Akhtar b Saqlain Mushtaq 15; D. Van Bunge c Rashid Latif b Abdul Razzaq 31; L. Van Troost c Rashid Latif b Shoaib Akthar 22; H. Mol b Shoaib Akhtar 13; J. Esmeijer lbw b Saeed Anwar 0; R. Lefebvre (not out) 4; J. Smits lbw b Wasim Akram 7; Extras (b-6, lb-11, w-17, nb-6) 40; Total (in 39.3 overs) 156.

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-31, 3-35, 4-43, 5-78, 6-108, 7-135, 8-136, 9-138.

Pakistan bowling: Wasim Akram 8.3-2-24-3, Shoaib Akhtar 7-0-26-3, Waqar Younis 6-1-19-1, Saqlain Mushtaq 8-2-32-1, Abdul Razzaq 6-0-23-1, Saeed Anwar 4-0-15-1.