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After riding the highs, Netherlands make shocking return to League 2 | ICC CWC League 2, 2023-27



The Dutch had a day to forget as they were given a sound hammering by Nepal at the TU Cricket Ground on Saturday (February 17)

Kathmandu: The Netherlands spent the better half of the last couple of years rubbing shoulders with some of the top teams in the world – be it against England, Pakistan, New Zealand or West Indies. On top of that, they were also the only associate team to make the 50-over World Cup in October-November last year.

Not to forget, they also knocked over Bangladesh and South Africa at the mega event and put up spirited performances against the other teams too. 

However, they were given a reality check when they returned to facing fellow associates in their first match of the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2, 2023-27, at the TU Cricket Ground, Kirtipur, as hosts Nepal annihilated them by nine wickets with a whooping 208 balls to spare – their worst ODI defeat (in terms of balls remaining) since 2007.

Mind you, Rohit Paudel’s men themselves are coming back off a tame defeat at the hands of Namibia in their previous on Thursday (February 15), which snapped their record of winning 15 ODIs on the bounce at home. However, on a spinning track, winning the toss and bowling first is all they needed to do on Saturday (February 17) as they dismissed the Netherlands for mere 132.

When Lalit Rajbanshi bowled a ripper to dismiss Bas de Leede (27) – a typical left-arm spinner’s wicket, where the ball pitches on leg and turns to hit the top of off – it was evident that it was going to be a long day for the Netherlands. Skipper Scott Edwards (33) managed just one boundary in his 49-ball stay, further underlying how challenging the conditions there.

It was Kushal Bhurtel who ripped the Dutch apart with his part-time leg-spin with career-best figures of 4 for 20 after Rajbanshi and Sompal Kami did the damage at the top. To put things into context, Bhurtel had just four wickets against his name in his previous 49 matches in ODIs.

Astonishingly, the only left-handed batter, Vikramjit Singh, was unexplainably not picked, while middle-order batter Teja Nidamanuru missed out due to a niggle, and Roelof van der Merwe was away for the ILT20 final.

“We picked the side we thought was the best on the day”, Edwards said on Vikramjit’s exclusion.

The Dutch further made things easier for Nepal by gifting them a couple of run-outs.  While defending 132 was never going to be an easy task, Nepal’s attacking approach right from ball one made it next to impossible for the Dutch. They were also dented by the absence of van der Merwe’s experience with young Shariz Ahmed and Aryan Dutt entrusted to handle the spin-bowling department.

Nepal came out swinging. They perhaps knew if they had looked to bat the 50 overs, there were high chances of them losing. Bhurtel set the tone with the bat, hitting 6,0,6,4,1 off Dutt’s first five deliveries. This against a bowler who had an economy rate of 5.2 across 36 powerplay overs at the World Cup.

He scored 28 off just 11 deliveries, which included two fours and three huge sixes, and when he was dismissed in the third over, Nepal needed just over 100 more to win. With Anil Sah (57*) also continuing his rich form, it was going to be trouble for the Netherlands. Along with Aasif Sheikh (54*), he put on an unbeaten 105-run stand.

Not having a quality third spinner was certainly an issue for the men in orange – so much so that they turned to the part-time option of Max ‘O Dowd, who had bowled in just three innings before this, but that did not work. The Netherlands were perhaps hoping for a Bhurtel-like impact with the ball.

Didn’t go right from start to end,” said Edwards, admitting that his side were outplayed.

“I don’t think it was too much of an issue [the powerplay]. It was more through the middle [overs] that we lost our way We started okay – 2 for 30 [28] – whatever it was. Maybe it was a little bit tougher in the morning, but that was no excuse to get bowled out for 130.”

The Dutch pride themselves on playing ODI cricket, good fielding and also running between the wickets. As Edwards mentioned, there were not many positives to emerge out of this game, but they’ll hope that they turn a corner when they take on Namibia on Monday (February 19) at the same venue.

Brief scores:

Netherlands 137 in 39 overs (Scott Edwards 33, Bas de Leede 27; Kushal Bhurtel 4 for 20) lost to Nepal 141 for 1 in 15.2 overs (Anil Sah 57*, Aasif Sheikh 54*; Vivian Kingma 1 for 28)

Player of the match: Kushal Bhurtel

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