England prevail over brave Netherlands
England got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start with a six-wicket win over the Netherlands on Tuesday, but had to work far harder in Nagpur than anyone expected.
Dutch player Ryan ten Doeschate’s stunning 119 helped his side to a sizeable 292/6 in their 50 overs, but ultimately the Netherlands bowling was not good enough to really trouble England in their run chase.
The Dutch total was 62 more than they had ever put on against a test-playing side, and it forced England to pull off the third-highest run chase in World Cup history.
Luckily for England, they didn’t have to do it against a world-class bowling attack. Nonetheless, their lamentable effort in the field will give them a big wake-up ahead of their appointment with India on the weekend.
In years to come this Group B game will primarily be remembered for Ten Doeschate’s efforts with the bat after his side won the toss and told England to field. The South African-born star’s 119 off 110 deliveries, which included three sixes, was instrumental in his side recording its record-breaking score.
Ten Doeschate came to the wicket in the 12th over, with the score on 58/2 after the Dutch had already made a reasonably quick start thanks to openers Alexei Kervezee and Wesley Barresi.
From that slightly precarious situation he took complete charge of his side’s innings, staying in until Stuart Broad finally had him caught in the deep in the 49th over.
He took advantage of some sloppy England bowling and some very poor fielding, most comically epitomised by Kevin Pietersen and Jimmy Anderson contriving to give Ten Doeschate a life when he was just short of his 50 in the 31st over.
On that occasion the ball went high into the air behind the bowler Graeme Swann’s head, but each fielder thought the other was going for this sitter of a catch and it fell right between them.
Strife in the field also brought up Ten Doeschate’s hundred, as Paul Collingwood’s unnecessary shy at the stumps rebounded for four overthrows.
Ten Doeschate would not have been able to get that far without some confident support from his lesser-rated batting colleagues, who certainly did not behave like shy ‘associate’ players.
Tom Cooper put on a carefully-managed 78 for the third wicket with Ten Doeschate, a stand which went a long way towards building confidence in the Dutch batting ranks.
When Cooper got out for 47 in the 29th over, the wheels could still have come off for the Netherlands, but a brisk 28 from Tom de Grooth gave Ten Doeschate valuable support.
Peter Borren also contributed a valuable 35 runs off 24 balls at the death, as England’s bowling and fielding became a laughing stock peppered with full-toss no-balls and dropped catches.
There was even a no-ball for a fielder being outside the circle, which resulted in Borren walking back from the boundary rope after being bowled by Broad.
After the break England were far more professional with the bat than they were in the field, and redeemed themselves by pulling off the run chase in comfort.
Pietersen and Andrew Strauss got them off to a quick start and put on 105 for the first wicket, and England never relinquished control.
The English won with six wickets and eight balls to spare, without ever having to extend themselves.
Strauss top-scored for England with 88, but everyone in the top order contributed and Ian Bell also made a half-century with 62.
Finally Collingwood and Ravi Bopara saw England home in the penultimate over, each ending on 30 not out as their side lived to tell the tale of what could have been a big scare.
Ten Doeschate weighed in with two wickets and was the pick of the Dutch bowlers -- the only one to go for less than five an over -- making the Man of the Match award an easy decision.
“I’d been struggling for a bit of form so to come here and make a knock like that is a bit special,” said Ten Doeschate.
“I always thought this was a really good wicket and didn’t think 230-240 would be competitive, so we were aiming around the 270 mark. As a unit I think we paced the innings quite well.
“We’ve been saying we want to play brave cricket at this World Cup. It’s one thing to say that sort of thing, but to actually go out and do it against a big nation is a big credit to us.”
England skipper Strauss was honest in his assessment of a tough day at the office for his side.
“We got a lot wrong with our bowling and let them off the hook three or four times in the field. It was a very poor first 50 overs and we’ve got to learn from that quickly. Thankfully the batsmen got us out of jail!
“We’re looking forward to our match against India now, it’s going to be a great occasion and we’re hoping we can spoil an Indian party!”
England – Andrew Strauss (capt), Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Ravi Bopara, Matt Prior (wk), Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson
Netherlands – Alexei Kervezee, Wesley Barresi (wk), Tom Cooper, Ryan ten Doeschate, Bas Zuiderent, Tom de Grooth, Peter Borren (capt), Mudassar Bukhari, Pieter Seelaar, Bernard Loots, Berend Westdijk