It’s the Hope that kills you: Dutch drop first ODI

The Dutch again showed glimpses, though the men in orange fell to a fine Shai Hope hundred at VRA.

Shai Hope pushes into the covers. Pic: Sander Tholen
Shai Hope pushes into the covers. Pic: Sander Tholen

On a day of alternating spells of glorious sunshine and passing showers, a couple of them heavy, a disappointingly small crowd at the VRA ground in Amstelveen on Tuesday were rewarded for their dedication with some fine cricket, with the West Indies eventually underlining their superiority over the Netherlands with a seven-wicket victory.

But it was an encouragingly solid performance from a relatively inexperienced Dutch side, who managed to reach 240 for seven in an innings cut to 45 overs, and then fought hard as the visitors, spearheaded by a superb unbeaten 119 from opener Shai Hope, chased down a revised target of 247 with eleven deliveries to spare.

The tone for the match, however, after Nicholas Pooran won the toss and put the Netherlands in, was set by 19-year-old Dutch opener Vikramjit Singh, who stood up well to the initial assault from Anderson Phillip and Alzarri Joseph – bowling with greater pace than penetration – and who got things moving with three boundaries off Phillip’s second over, the first driven sweetly through point, the next pulled over midwicket, and the last again cracked past point.

Vikramjit Singh again looked classy in spite of falling short of a half-century (Sander Tholen)

He went one better after Phillip switched to the other end, twice pulling him for six to deep backward square, the second a magnificent shot which bounced off the roof of the media centre and disappeared into the undergrowth beyond.

At this point Singh had raced to 37 from 34 deliveries, and by the end of the initial powerplay the Dutch were on 51 without loss, with Max O’Dowd at the other end mostly a witness to the mayhem his partner was creating.

Pooran, though, had now brought left-arm spinner Akeal Hosein into the attack, and it was he who had Singh leg-before for 47, made from 45 balls with six fours and two sixes, after the West Indians successfully reviewed the umpire’s rejection of their appeal.

Hosein repeated his success ten overs later, ending a promising stand between O’Dowd and Musa Ahmad when he had the latter LBW for 13.

By this time the slow left-armer was operating in tandem with leg-spinner Hayden Walsh, and they conceded just 24 from seven overs as the Dutch batters negotiated the total into three figures, Bas de Leede now at the crease with O’Dowd.

It was Walsh who finally removed O’Dowd, beating him in the air as he tried to play him across the line, and the opener departed for a 69-ball 39 in which he had never really got out of a lower gear.

Max O’Dowd slashes forward of point (Sander Tholen)

De Leede was next to go, chasing a wide delivery from Kyle Mayers and edging him to keeper Hope.

Shortly afterwards, with Scott Edwards and debutant Teja Nidamanuru having taken the total to 146 for four in the 32nd over, the heavens opened and there was a delay of a little more than two hours, enough to reduce the Dutch innings to 45 overs.

After the restart Nidamanuru took over, batting with increasing confidence and reaching his half-century with a six off the hard-working Mayers in the penultimate over of the innings; it came in just 49 deliveries and he finished with 58 not out, a vital contribution to a Dutch total which, while not quite enough to put the West Indies under real pressure, was the best they had managed since 2019.

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Hosein was the pick of the West Indian bowlers with two for 29 from nine overs, while Phillip came in for sustained punishment and finished with one for 66.

The Dutch needed early wickets, but in the absence of the injured Fred Klaassen, Hope and Shamarh Brooks were largely untroubled against the three-man pace attack of Logan van Beek, Viv Kingma and Ryan Klein, although Van Beek in particular caught the edge more than once and Brooks, the more aggressive of the pair, was dropped at point by Nidamanuru off his bowling in the seventh over.

As if to rub it in a little, Brooks then dispatched Kingma twice over square leg off successive deliveries, and the partnership was gathering real momentum.

Skipper Pieter Seelaar, as he has done so often, pulled things back with a steadying spell from the City End, but the stand had reached 120 in fewer than 24 overs before Van Beek, back from that end, induced a pull from Brooks at a slower delivery and the batter, through his shot, smacked a sharp return catch.

(Sander Tholen)

He had made 60 from 67 balls, but Van Beek brought the sparse home crowd to life by trapping Nkrumah Bonner in front with his next delivery, giving the Dutch support a brief illusion of a possible collapse.

Nicholas Pooran survived the hat-trick ball, but he had made only 7 when, after successfully overturning an LBW decision when reverse-sweeping Aryan Dutt, he tried two balls later to belt the spinner out of the park and was decisively bowled.

Three wickets had fallen for 13 runs and the home crowd erupted again, but Brandon King now joined Hope, who had meanwhile gone on to 64.

Together they set about slamming the door shut, and although Hope appeared to be in some physical trouble, first receiving attention for his left hand and then, during the final drinks interval, some serious physiotherapy, he was never in trouble from the bowling, reaching his eleventh ODI century in the 37th over as the West Indians came within fifty of their target.

King, meanwhile, had proceeded unobtrusively into the twenties, but now he exploded, smashing Van Beek over square leg for six and then four, and then hitting two more boundaries off Kingma as Seelaar shuffled his pack.

He reached his first ODI half-century off just 44 deliveries, and the stand reached 116 as Hope crisply struck Klein through point to complete the victory.

In truth, the outcome had never really been in doubt, but Singh and Nidamanuru with the bat and the hard-working Van Beek (with figures of two for 49), Seelaar and to a degree Dutt, had done enough to confirm that even without their county-contracted contingent the Dutch can be competitive at this level.

They will go into the two remaining matches of this Super League series with a renewed determination to give a good account of themselves.

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