Bangladesh feel the pinch as Edwards and Van Meekeren star

Aryan Dutt celebrates a wicket in Netherlands victory over Bangladesh in the 2023 ICC Men's World Cup. credit: ICC

It takes an extraordinary degree of resilience to bounce back from a scarifying experience like Wednesday’s defeat at the hands of Australia, and at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday Scott Edwards’s side again proved their mettle with an outstanding team performance against Bangladesh.

The Dutch had beaten Bangladesh in an ODI before, but never in a game that went the full 50 overs, and certainly never in a World Cup. And this win, which left England at the bottom of the table and which immediately followed Australia’s dramatic win over New Zealand, demonstrated once again why the 50-over format entirely deserves its place in the international calendar.

Not to mention the importance of regular opportunities for the leading Associates to play competitive cricket against the Full Members on a regular basis.

On an Eden Gardens pitch which was less easy-paced than the pundits had initially suggested, the Dutch batting found the going tough against the Bangladeshi attack. After the early loss once again of openers Vikram Singh and Max O’Dowd, the seasoned campaigner Wesley Barresi thoroughly justified his selection at the expense of Teja Nidamanuru with an aggressive run-a-ball 41 which included no fewer than eight boundaries.

But once he had been deceived by a slower delivery from Mustafizur Rahman and Colin Ackermann, with whom he had shared a half-century partnership, had followed in the next over, the Dutch were again in trouble at 63 for four.

It would have been worse still had Edwards not been dropped twice in Mustafizur’s next, but the Dutch skipper went on to make the Tigers pay for those lapses with his 15th half-century, breaking Ryan ten Doeschate’s record for the Netherlands in ODIs. With support first from Bas de Leede and then from Sybrand Engelbrecht, with whom he added 78 for the sixth wicket, Edwards gradually steered his side towards a defendable total.

Mustafizur eventually got his man, but Edwards had made a fine 68, and although Engelbrecht followed in the next over, trapped in front by Mahedi Hasan for 35, Logan van Beek chipped in with an unbeaten 16-ball 23, taking the total to 229 before he ran out of partners.

Mustafizur was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowlers with two for 36, but he was not the only one who could lament his side’s lapses in the field.

One of cricket’s oldest saws is that you can never judge a pitch until both sides have batted, and those who had accused the Dutch of excessive caution were soon proved wrong as Bangladesh slumped to 70 for six in the space of eighteen overs.

Aryan Dutt again bowled superbly in the initial powerplay, removing Litton Das in his third over, and he was well backed up by Van Beek, who had Tanzid Hasan caught behind in the next.

Then Paul van Meekeren repeated his favourite trick by claiming a wicket in his first over, getting Najmul Hossain Shanto brilliantly caught at second slip by Van Beek, following that up with the scalp of Shakib Al Hasan four overs later.

De Leede gave Edwards his fourth catch of the innings to remove Mehidy Hasan Miraz, and when Van Meekeren bowled Mushfiqur Rahim it was hard to see a way back for Bangladesh.

Mahmudullah and Mahedi Hasan resisted for a dozen overs, Edwards again rotating his bowlers in search of the breakthrough, but it was a fine piece of fielding from De Leede at short third man which produced the run-out of Mahedi and put the Dutch back on track.

Then the allrounder removed Mahmudullah, Dutt taking another outstanding catch at midwicket, and although Mustafizur and Taskin went after Ackermann when he returned to the attack, the asking rate had crept up to nine an over, and the off-spinner eventually bowled Mustafizur to put the Netherlands one wicket away from another historic victory.

It was, perhaps inevitably, Van Meekeren who returned to dismiss Taskin and finish with career-best figures of four for 23, as Bangladesh were all out for 142.

Dutt’s one for 26 from ten overs was also a crucial contribution, but Van Beek, De Leede and Ackermann all played their part as well, backed up by another admirable performance in the field.

With three games to play the Netherlands could still theoretically reach the semi-finals, but Afghanistan, England and India lie in wait, and in reality a mid-table position is probably the best they can hope for.

Still, even that would be one of the most remarkable achievements in World Cup history, and a suitable reward for a squad which has already, as Scott Edwards vowed it would, done its supporters proud.

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