Australia give Dutch a tough cricket lesson

Glenn Maxwell celebrates a devastating century against Netherlands at the 2023 ODI World Cup (Photo: ICC)

If the Sri Lanka had been a come-down after Dharamsala, Tuesday’s match against Australia at Delhi was a painful reminder of just how big the gap still can be between Scott Edwards’s ODI tyros and the powerhouse teams of world cricket.

With both sides needing a victory to keep their semi-final qualification hopes alive, Australian skipper Pat Cummins won the toss and decided to bat first. Unfortunately, with the Feroz Shah Kotla pitch dishing out another flat pitch devoid of any lateral movement or turn, the Netherlands bowlers were under the pump from the very start.

Dutch captain Scott Edwards started the innings with spin from both ends, a strategy he had used to great effect to tame the South African openers in their famous win in Dharamshala. However, this time David Warner took full toll, hitting Aryan Dutt for four consecutive boundaries in the 3rd over. The twin spin experiment was ditched quickly with Edwards turning next to Logan van Beek. He struck in his very first over with Mitchell Marsh skying a pull to cover.

Steve Smith joined Warner at the crease and together the duo put on a brisk 128 runs partnership, setting the base for a formidable score. Smith was his usual busy self-ticking the score along with plenty of nurdles and onside flicks. The crucial moment came in the 17th over, when Warner hit a Colin Ackermann delivery to midwicket and set off for a quick run, only to find Smith stationery and ball watching at the non-striker’s end. However, a Max O’Dowd fumble allowed Warner to get back, continuing his run of luck from the Pakistan game. The let off proved costly as Warner added another 72 runs with the bat, notching up his second successive century of the World Cup.

After Smith’s dismissal for a well-made 71 (68), Marnus Labuschagne joined Warner at the crease and kept the runs flowing. In an uncharacteristic innings, he hit seven fours and two sixes blasting his way to a quickfire 62 off 47 balls. Bas de Leede finally broke the partnership in the 37th over, getting Labuschagne chipping to mid-on. This started a mini collapse with the Aussies losing 46/4 in the 6.1 overs thanks to some excellent Dutch catching and ground fielding.  

A Maxwell special sinks the Dutch at the death

With the score at 290/6 and eight overs to go, the Dutch would have entertained hopes of restricting Australia to below 350. However, their dreams were quickly dashed with Glenn Maxwell putting on a ball striking masterclass. He blasted his way into the World Cup record books, registering the fastest World Cup hundred in a mere 40 balls. This easily eclipsed Aiden Markram’s record off 48 balls, which had been set earlier in an extremely batting dominated tournament so far. It was an outrageous innings, peppered with reverse scoops, pulls, cuts and lofted shots all over the ground.

The Dutch did not help themselves either with some atrocious death bowling, undoing their good work earlier. De Leede was the worst culprit bowling three consecutive leg-stump full tosses which were summarily dispatched for three huge sixes. He was on the receiving end of an unwanted record for the most expensive 10 over spell in ODI history with figures of 10-0-115-2.

Australia eventually finished on a mammoth 399/8 off their 50 overs, securing a healthy boost to their NRR. A staggering 131 runs came in the last 10 overs. The bowling scorecard made for particularly grim reading with van Beek (10-0-74-4) and Paul van Meekeren (10-0-64-0) the pick of the bowlers.

Netherlands wilt under the heat of the Aussie attack

If latter stages of the Australian innings had been an object-lesson in brutal hitting as the Dutch attack crumbled; what followed when they batted was infinitely worse.

Vikram Singh hit six boundaries in a run-a-ball cameo of 25 but repeatedly played and missed against the raw pace and prodigious swing of Mitchell Starc, but it was Max O’Dowd who was the first to go, playing on to the left-warmer. Singh then ran himself out, and then Colin Ackermann and De Leede were trapped in front by Josh Hazlewood and Cummins respectively, leaving the Dutch on 53 for four.

Sybrand Engelbrecht was a trifle unlucky, falling to a stunning leaping catch by Warner on the midwicket boundary off Marsh’s rather gentler pace, and this time there was to be no lower-middle-order recovery. Adam Zampa took over, taking four wickets for 8 runs in eighteen deliveries, and the Netherlands were all out for 90, their third-lowest total in an ODI.

At 309 runs it was the biggest winning margin in ODI history, completing a record-breaking day of the worst kind from a Dutch point of view. Both individually and collectively there will be conclusions to be drawn and lessons learned; what this day did not do, however, was negate the progress the Netherlands have made or their achievements so far.

In this mood the Australians could demolish anybody. But Edwards’s side will need to pick themselves up and prove their mettle against Bangladesh on Saturday.

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