This is not about the movie, but about the cricket match that just unfolded just now, where England scraped through against a buoyant Dutch side that put up a challenging 292/6 from its tally of 50 overs. While I am not particularly fond of the 50 over version of the game now that T20 has gained such popularity, the world cup remains one of the most watched events globally, and hence, gets some amount of attention from me sporadically. Like today.
The Dutch boys batted first and their innings revolved around the outstanding century scored by Ryan ten Doeschate, a rather intriguing player. He is like a mercenary, who is like a gun for hire, especially for the T20 version of the game. In the IPL, this year onwards he will represent the Kolkata Knight Riders, which is the team I rooted for in the past few years. The other major franchisee that he represents on field is the English county side Essex. He has played in Australia, Zimbabwe and South Africa as a hired gun, if I am not mistaken.
In this Cricket World Cup, in the games played out thus far, the minnows have been overwhelmed convincingly by the better teams. From 2015 onwards, these associate nations shall not be playing in the World Cup competition, which, I think, is a good idea, actually. It would be better to promote T20 in the non-cricketing countries and bringing up more countries via that avenue, since most certainly they are too weak to contest with nations like India and Australia, where cricket is not just a sport, but almost an explicit part of their identity. Kenya and Canada were thrashed convincingly by New Zealand and Sri Lanka respectively and Bangladesh was comfortably defeated by India on the inaugural day of the competition.
This year. England sports one of the most balanced one day sides I have seen them play, and are, as always, considered to be the favorites to win the cup. Their campaign met with a serious challenge today from the minnows, thanks to ten Doeschate. He not only turned out his first world cup century, but also picked up 2 wickets in his mean spell of 10 overs where he just gave away 47 runs. The Man of the Match in my book!
England was under heavy fire in the last 10 overs where the Dutch spanked them for 104 runs, but more than that, they looked like a team that was running around like a headless chicken. The best example of that being when the Dutch captain Peter Borren was bowled by a Broad yorker (he doesn’t look pretty with his hair cropped short!) which was declared a no ball since there were only 3 fielders in the 30 yard circle (there has to be a minimum of 4 fielders within the circle in non-powerplay overs). This happened several times over in the final few overs and showed the disarray the team was in.
The Dutch bowling lacked the fire power to hold England out. The newest experiment of trying Andrew Strauss to open with Kevin “KP” Pietersen worked well enough in my book, until KP succumbed to a left arm spinner, yet again. Pieter Seelaar. This trait was started when Yuvraj managed to dislodge him successively when the English toured India (if I am not mistake, that is! I am not good recalling these facts off the top of my head!). KP called Yuvi a pie-chucker but ended up becoming Yuvi’s fodder on several occasions. Since then, the world has recognized KP’s one seeming weakness.
Strauss, on the other hand, played a cultured innings and actually outscored his more flamboyant partner in both quantity and pace of scoring runs. Another player that impressed was Trott. Trotting on towards the fastest to 1000 runs in ODI just behind the great Viv Richards and KP, his cool demeanor is an important factor in holding together the crumbly fabric of the English middle order.
Whilst Seelaar and ten Doeschate bowled their hearts out, the rest just played their roles as cannon fodder. With 2 over left and 13 runs to score, when the ball was given to Loots, it seemed to me to have been over. Bopara proved my premonitions to be correct by going for 6-2-4-4 to end the hash. In my opinion, that over should have been bowled by Mudassar Bukhara, supposedly the premier Dutch quickie.
Eventually England won with 8 balls and 6 wickets to spare, but the win did not come as easily as suggested by the statistics. The Netherlands may well have lost this match, but they have been successful in shaking the confidence of a very erratic team right at the start of their World Cup campaign.
Whilst many are still wondering how ironic it would be had the Oranjes won at the Orange City of India (the game was played at Hambantota, Nagpur), I am thinking that at last @iamsrk will be heaving a sigh of relief: a good pick for the Kolkata Knight Riders, at long last!
Image credit: Getty Images, via the ESPNSTAR website.