Yuvraj's repeat act

Notwithstanding a brisk start, India was required to play sensibly from 99 for four to put the Netherlands in its place. Rakesh Rao reports.

The result was never in doubt. The only interest was the margin of victory for India. But the five-wicket victory with more than 13 overs to spare brought far less joy to the fans than expected. However, the victory at New Delhi's Feroze Shah Kotla ground kept the home team at the top of Group ‘B' standings.

The Netherlands was not expected to taste success against India. Skipper Peter Borren knew the might of the Indians and promised to be “competitive.” The team managed 189 on the board after some late aggression.

Notwithstanding a brisk start, India was required to play sensibly from 99 for four to put the Netherlands in its place.

More than India, Yuvraj Singh gained from the game. He walked away with his second successive Man of the Match award. He took two wickets, including that of Ryan ten Doeschate — the man who scored a century against England — and scored a timely unbeaten half century.

After going through a lean trot for more than a year, Yuvraj seemed to be getting his act together. Another confident show from the left-hander augured well for India.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was looking for an “easy win” and not without reason. After running England close in the opener, the Netherlands had lost to the West Indies and South Africa with margins of over 200 runs. More than winning, Dhoni was looking to use the opportunity to give another chance to young leg-spinner Piyush Chawla to find his rhythm ahead of the bigger challenges.

The skipper also wanted to give Yusuf Pathan more time at the crease. Chawla, under fire from all quarters, did give India the breakthrough and bowled a pretty tidy line and length until being hit for 17 runs in his last over. Dhoni was pretty pleased with the youngster's effort. What must have left him a bit disappointed was the fact that Pathan could not make the most of being promoted in the order

Ashish Nehra, facing question marks over his fitness, was on view. He was not required to do much but did not enough to remove doubts over his match-fitness.

Netherlands chose to bat but could not get going against the early introduction of spin bowling. Pathan, Harbhajan Singh and Chawla, all bowled before the end of the second powerplay. Dhoni tried out a few new tricks against the hapless Netherlands and they all seemed to work.

If the Dutch team managed to recover from 106 for six to 189, it was mainly due to the some good hitting from Borren and Mudassar Bukhari.

India, looking to improve its net-run, got off to a sound start. Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar put on 69 runs before former departed in the eighth over. Left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar went on to add the scalps of Tendulkar and Pathan to make it 82 for three. The cheap dismissal of Virat Kohli gave the Netherlands some “chance of winning,” in the words of the skipper.

But Yuvraj straightaway took away the pressure with Gambhir for company. Once Gambhir left, Dhoni batted cautiously and ensured that he gave ample strike to Yuvraj to complete yet another ODI half century. The match lacked excitement but ensured that India virtually took its allotted place in the quarterfinals.

THE SCORES

Netherlands 189 in 46.4 overs (E. S. Szwarczynski 28, W. Barresi 26, T. L. W. Cooper 29, P. W. Borren 38, Zaheer Khan three for 20) lost to India 191 for five in 36.3 overs (V. Sehwag 39, S. R. Tendulkar 27, G. Gambhir 28, Yuvraj Singh 51 not out, P. M. Seelaar three for 53).