World Cup: Pakistan brush aside Netherlands to make winning start

NEW DELHI: Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Rizwan scored crucial half-centuries before bowlers produced an all-round effort as Pakistan kicked-off their 2023 ODI World Cup campaign with a comfortable 81-run win over Netherlands in Hyderabad on Friday.
Shakeel and Rizwan — playing their first ODI World Cup match — scored 68 each and added a vital 120-run for the fourth wicket to lift Pakistan to a competitive 286 after the early wobble.
Led by speedster Haris Rauf, bowlers then produced a commanding performance to shoot out the Dutch for 205 in 41 overs.
Netherlands’ star all-rounder Bas de Leede did all he could, first grabbing a four-for and then scoring 76 but the other batters failed to step up Pakistan registered a clinical win.
As It Happened
The Dutch were in the run chase till opener Vikramjit Singh (52 off 67) and de Leede (67 off 68) were in the middle but the end of their 70-run stand for the third wicket led to their downfall.
Pakistan’s bowling, which was found wanting in the warm-up games, delivered in the middle-overs.
Haris Rauf (3/43) hurried the middle-order duo of Teja Nidamanuru and Scott Edwards to strike twice in the 27th over.
Shaheen Afridi trapped Saqib Zulfikar in front with a fast and full ball to make it 158 for six and when left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz dismissed De Leede with a beauty, it was game over for the associate team in the competition.
Under fire vice-captain Shadab Khan also raised his game with the ball.
With minimal foot movement, Vikramjit’s stroke play against Shaheen in the powerplay was effective as he collected three boundaries off the star pacer. De Leede’s six over wide long-on against the turn off Nawaz stood out in his sublime knock.
In the end, de Leede was left to do too much on his own.
Earlier, Pakistan suffered two mini collapses in their innings, one at the top of the order and the other one after a 120-run stand off 114 balls between Mohammad Rizwan (68 off 75) and Saud Shakeel (68 off 52) for the fourth wicket.
While de Leede got the important breakthroughs in the middle-overs, off-spinners Aryan Dutt (1/48) and Colin Ackermann (2/39) got a lot out of the Hyderabad surface.
Playing their first World Cup game in 12 years, Netherlands used as many as eight bowling options after opting to field.
Dutt opened the bowling for Netherlands alongside Logan van Beek who got his outswing (inswing to the left-handers) going in the powerplay.
Pakistan were in a nervy state after losing Fakhar Zaman (12), skipper Babar Azam (5) and Imam Ul Haq (15) by the 10th over.
Van Beek had the out-of-form Zaman caught and bowled before Ackermann got the prized wicket of Babar whose attempted pull landed straight into the hands of the mid-wicket fielder.
Paul van Meekran struck on his very first ball as his short ball got big on Imam who pulled it straight to fine-leg, leaving Pakistan at 38 for three.
Rizwan and Saud gave the innings much-needed stability. Shakeel, playing only his seventh ODI, was particularly impressive against the spinners. His effort included nine fours and six via a slog sweep off Roelof Van der Merwe.
De Leede broke the stand by removing Rizwan with a ball that cut back in to sneak through the batter’s defence.
From 188 for six, Nawaz (39) and Shadab (32) forged a 64-run partnership to take the team past 250.
Pakistan were on course to reach 300 but De Leede got rid of Shadab and Hasan Ali off successive balls to put the brakes on their scoring.
(With inputs from PTI)

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