Akmal and Afridi block Dutch double delight
Pakistan 175-5 Netherlands 93 (Pakistan win by 82 runs)
Well, it was fun while it lasted – for everyone except England, of course. But delight swiftly turned to dismay for the Dutch here yesterday as Pakistan advanced to the latter stages of the World Twenty20 with an emphatic victory.
Four days after their greatest cricketing triumph, the Netherlands went in search of another never to be forgotten result but a combination of nerves and high-quality spin bowling proved far too much for them. Having kept Pakistan's batsmen within reasonable bounds, the boys in orange were bowled out for 93 inside 18 overs when they needed a total of 151 or better to go through to the Super Eights.
Perhaps the run-rate calculations – knowing they could lose and still proceed – helped to scramble Dutch minds. Much more likely, though, was that Shahid Afridi's fast leg-spin and Saeed Ajmal's off breaks and doosras posed the kind of problems which associate member countries are simply not used to facing on a regular basis. Afridi finished with 4 for 11, the fourth best bowling analysis in the brief history of international Twenty20s, and Ajmal struck three times.
So the Netherlands head home. And while the memory of last Friday's remarkable victory over England should send them on their way with happy hearts, disappointed captain Jeroen Smits struggled to look on the bright side last night. "We didn't play that well this time," said Smits. "Afridi was outstanding and we struggled. We said we had to fear him and play straight but that's not what we did."
While England join South Africa, India and West Indies in one seriously tough looking second-round group, then Pakistan have lifted themselves off the floor to take their place alongside New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland in the other section.
The toughest test that Younis Khan's men faced at Lord's yesterday came while Dirk Nannes was making life extremely hot for openers Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt with another batch of 90 mph deliveries. They did well to keep the left-armer at bay, wisely opting to save most of their attacking strokes for the former Middlesex paceman's new ball partner, Edgar Schiferli. But once Nannes made way, runs started to come reasonably freely from both ends, despite some tigerish Dutch fielding.
Although Akmal top-scored with 41 from 30 balls – and later picked up four comfortable stumpings to earn the man of the match award – every member of Pakistan's top order did the necessary to post a total of 175 for 5. "We probably should have restricted them to 150," reckoned Smits.
If they had done that, 126 would have been enough to see Netherlands advance and the minnows might have started their innings in a more optimistic frame of mind. But apart from three belligerent blows from opener Darron Reekers, there was not much conviction about the Dutch batting when it came to facing pace, and precious little idea about how to proceed once Younis turned to his spinners.
Instead of following that plan to play straight, one batsman after another tried to swing across the line, although Bas Zuiderent could be excused for failing to do anything at all against Afridi's first ball. A rapid yorker length delivery clattered into off stump and a slide from 42 for one to 93 all out had begun.
Ajmal claimed two wickets in three balls, Afridi took three in 10 and, apart from Ryan ten Doeschate's hoiked six off Pakistan's third spinner, Shoaib Malik, there was little for the Dutch fan club to enjoy on this occasion.
* South Africa, England's first opponents in the Super Eights, successfully defended a modest total of 128 for 7 to beat New Zealand by one run at Lord's last night. Needing three from the last ball to tie, all-rounder Jacob Oram was run out going for the third.
World Twenty20: Where we're at
Australia, Bangladesh, Scotland and the Netherlands have all departed the World Twenty20 following the group stages.
Remaining fixtures: Group stages: Today: Sri Lanka v West Indies, India v Ireland (both Trent Bridge).
Super Eights: Tomorrow: New Zealand v Ire, England v South Africa (both Trent Bridge). Fri: Pakistan v SL, Ind v WI (both Lord's). Sat: WI v SA, NZ v Pak (both The Oval). Sun: Ire v SL, Ind v Eng (both Lord's). Mon: Eng v WI, Pak v Ire (both The Oval). Tue: NZ v SL, SA v Ind (both Trent Bridge).
18 & 19 Jun: Semi-finals (Trent Bridge and The Oval). 21 Jun: Final (Lord's).
How the Super Eight works
The eight qualifiers are divided into two pre-determined groups, E and F. Group E is made up of the top seeds from groups A and C and the second seeds from groups B and D, with the reverse in Group F. Each country plays three Super Eight games. West Indies and Ireland take the seedings of the departed Australia and Bangladesh. The top two from each group progress to the semi-finals.
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