Vaibhav Arora/Zeecric Bureau
New Delhi: Despite a stutter in the middle of their innings, India beat the Netherlands by 5 wickets with 81 balls to spare and consolidate their top spot in the points table. India now have 7 points from 4 games with England, who have 5 points off as many games, at the second place.
Chasing a modest target of 190 to win, India were given a flying start by openers Virender Sehwag (39 off 26 balls) and Sachin Tendulkar (27 off 22 balls) as they added 69 runs in just 7.3 overs. However, a triple strike by Pieter Seelaar and another wicket by Peter Borren had India struggling at 99/4 at one point of time.
Apart from Tendulkar and Sehwag, those back in the hut included Yusuf Pathan (11) and Virat Kohli (12). A crucial 40-run partnership between Gautam Gambhir (28) and Yuvraj Singh (51*) brought India back into the game and the job was finished by the pair of Yuvraj and skipper MS Dhoni (19*), who added an unbeaten 52 for the sixth wicket.
For Netherlands, Seelaar was the most successful bowler with three strikes while Borren and Mudassar Bukhari took a wicket each.
Earlier, Borren’s late cameo of 38 off just 36 balls gave the Netherlands total some respect but the Dutch still fell short of a competitive total as they were wrapped up for a paltry 189 despite a steady start.
Zaheer Khan was the star performer for India with three scalps while Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj Singh picked up two wickets each. Ashish Nehra, who was playing his first match of the World Cup, bowled just five overs and ended up with figures of 22/1.
The Indian bowling attack looked toothless in the initial overs as the Netherlands opening pair of Eric Szwarczynski (28) and Wesley Baressi (26) put together a 50-run partnership in the 14th over of the innings.
While Zaheer gave away 14 runs in his first spell of three overs, Nehra was taken off the attack after conceding six runs off his only over of the opening spell.
Yusuf Pathan and Harbhajan Singh, who were subsequently brought into the attack, put the brakes on the scoring rate with a tight line and length.
Piyush Chawla finally struck for India as he cleaned up Szwarczynski for 28 off a well disguised googly.
A little while later, the man with the golden arm, Yuvraj Singh, picked up the second wicket of the innings (his 100th in ODI cricket) as he sent back Wesley Baressi to reduce the Netherlands to 64/2.
Yuvraj struck yet again as he removed the dangerous looking Ryan ten Doeschate with the score reading 99. Doeschate was caught by Zaheer just inside the long-off boundary as he tried to smash one outside the ground.
Nehra, too struck soon, with the prized wicket of Tom Cooper for 29 as the Netherlands lost their fourth wicket for 100.
Wickets continued to tumble as the Netherlands were soon reduced to 127/7 before the late order came good and helped the Dutch to a respectable total.