Run-outs. Quality spin bowling. Compact Batting. Afghanistan again showed their cricketing prowess by picking up another impressive win courtesy of a well-rounded team performance. Their latest win against the Netherlands ensured we are going to the wire for semi-final spots. This World Cup has been a tournament of few close finishes, and this was no exception.
The Netherlands made two changes to their team that recorded an impressive win against Bangladesh last Saturday. They opted for more spinning actions on a turning Lucknow wicket. Vikramjit Singh is taken out of the team and replaced by Roelof van der Merwe. There was also a like-for-like change, with Shariz Ahmed being dropped to the bench to accommodate Saqib Zulfiqar.
Afghanistan picked a big win of seven wickets against Sri Lanka with a commanding performance. After missing out on the last game despite shining in the game against Pakistan, teenager Noor Ahmed is back to spin more trouble for the Dutchmen. He took the place of Naveen-Ul-Haq, who is set to retire from this format after this tournament.
- Rahmanullah Gurbaz 2. Ibrahim Zadram 3. Rahmat Shah 4. Hashmatullah Shahidi (Cap.) 5. Mohammed Nabi 6. Ikram Alikhil (WK) 7. Azmatullah Omarzai 8. Rashid Khan 9. Mujeeb U Rahman 10. Noor Ahmed 11. Fazalhaq Farooqi
- Wesley Baresi 2. Max O’Dowd 3. Colin Ackermann 4. Sybrand Engelbrecht 5. Scott Edwards (Cap.) (WK) 6. Bas de Leede 7. Saqib Zulfiqar 8. Logan van Beek 9. Roelof van der Merwe 10. Aryan Dutt 11. Paul van Meekeren
Nederlands skipper Scott Edwards won the toss and elected to bat first on a slow surface. The Ekana Sports City in Lucknow has always been known for favoring the spinners and slow bowlers. However, the World Cup pitches made from black soil also present favorable conditions for batting. The games are usually low-scoring at this ground. India could only score 229 runs in the first innings against England.
This was the 10th meeting between the two emerging cricketing nations. Afghanistan clearly had the upper hand against the Dutch, with 7 wins to 2.
|Venue||The 34th group stage game of this World Cup was played in Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow.|
|Date||The game started at 1:30 p.m. onwards on Friday, November 3.|
Captaincy & Tactics
The decision to bat first seemed like a good decision by the Dutch captain, whose side batted well for the first 18 overs. The misfiring opener, Max O’Dowd, finally came good with some perfectly timed drives. But three of the Dutch top four fell victim to run-outs, an event with almost no explanation. Sybrand Engelbrecht showed resilience in his innings of 58, but it was never going to be enough, with Afghanistan bowlers cleaning up the tail quickly. The last 4 wickets fell for 45 runs.
In reply, the Netherlands started off relatively well by taking the pace off. After losing both of the openers within 61 balls, Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi steadied the ship with a partnership of 74 runs. They played with zero risks, manoeuvering the bowlers along the ground. Azmatullah Omarzai joined the proceedings later and played some beautiful lofted shots to make sure Afghanistan reached home quickly.
The Netherlands got off to a great start in the World Cup match, reaching a score of 72 for 1 in 11 overs. Max O’Dowd played a crucial role in this with his aggressive batting. However, in the 12th over, O’Dowd was run out while trying to score a second run. Azmatullah Omarzai made a direct hit from a fine leg to dismiss him.
Unfortunately, the run-out troubles continued for the Netherlands team. Colin Ackermann, who was well-set in the game, was slow to respond to a single call from Sybrand Engelbrecht and got run out. In the very next ball, Scott Edwards mis-hit a reverse sweep and lost track of the ball. By the time he realized it, the wicketkeeper Ikram Alikhil had already broken the stumps.
Following that, there were more run-outs involving Mohammad Nabi, Noor Ahmed, and Rashid Khan. As the innings progressed, Engelbrecht, who was holding the team together, also fell victim to a run-out. This happened when Roelof van der Merwe called for a single that wasn’t there.
Overall, the Netherlands team had a series of unfortunate run-outs, which affected their batting performance in the match. There were too many stop-starts that held them back. Eventually, only Sybrand Engelbrecht managed to get past the fifty mark with some of the finest strokes in the game. But a below-200 score with no special turner of the ball in the team is never going to be enough.
Afghanistan faced a slight setback in their chase of 180 runs when Rahmanullah Gurbaz got out in the fifth over, and Ibrahim Zadran followed him in the 11th over. However, they didn’t feel the pressure of the required run-rate thanks to some quick boundaries from Rahmat, who batted aggressively on the offside. His partnership with Shahidi, worth 74 runs in 77 balls, kept Afghanistan comfortably ahead in the chase. The Netherlands’ fast bowlers couldn’t make breakthroughs once the shine on the ball wore off, and the batsmen played cautiously against the spinners Aryan Dutt and Zulfiqar.
Rahmat achieved his third consecutive fifty in the World Cup and his 26th in ODIs overall, but he was caught and bowled by the tricky wrist-spinner Zulfiqar. However, the Dutch team’s celebration was short-lived as Omarzai came in and played aggressively while Shahidi held his ground. Along the way, Shahidi reached his 19th ODI fifty, and Afghanistan sealed victory in the 32nd over, with both batsmen remaining unbeaten on a partnership of 52 runs. Surprisingly, there were no sixes hit throughout the game.
The Netherlands team was left disappointed after suffering four dismissals in a similar manner, which gave Afghanistan an advantage they didn’t let go of. The Dutch team’s score went from 72 for 1 to 97 for 5, and Afghanistan’s spinners took control of the game during the middle overs. On the other hand, Afghanistan managed to recover from a tough start with the ball. Although they took the wicket of Wesley Barresi in the first over, they conceded 6.6 runs per over in the powerplay. Fazalhaq Farooqi, one of the only two seamers in the Afghanistan team for this match, gave away eight boundaries in the powerplay, which is a record for the 2023 World Cup.
Afghanistan’s bowling performance took a hit in the match as they struggled to contain the Netherlands’ batting onslaught. In the first few overs, Afghanistan conceded a significant number of runs, with each over resulting in at least one boundary. This undid the advantage gained by Mujeeb’s early wicket. Both Farooqi and Mujeeb couldn’t find their rhythm, allowing the Netherlands to dominate the game.
Aware of the situation, the Afghanistan team gathered on the field for a huddle, hoping to regroup and find a solution. All eyes were on Rashid, who had just returned to the field after a brief absence, as he took charge of the impromptu timeout. However, it was Nabi who stepped up to deliver a message on Rashid’s behalf, perhaps indicating that Rashid had entrusted him with the responsibility.
In his first few overs, the bowler from Afghanistan, Nabi, displayed great accuracy and control. He consistently bowled tight deliveries on the off-side and maintained a good length, resulting in four consecutive dot balls in his first over and seven in his first two overs. He conceded only three singles and one boundary, making it difficult for the Netherlands batsmen to score runs.
Interestingly, Nabi also played a role in causing three run-outs during his overs, which added to his contributions. Although the term “caused” may be subjective for run-outs, it felt like a unique aspect of his bowling performance, almost like a special variation – right-arm run-outs. One particular run-out of Scott Edwards seemed reminiscent of a stumping, emphasizing Nabi’s impact.
In his next over, the 21st over of the innings, Nabi dismissed Bas de Leede with a seemingly ordinary delivery. However, it hung back a bit longer, stayed outside, and intentionally avoided turning. When Nabi came on to bowl, the Netherlands were 72 for 1, but after his spell, their score dropped to 97 for 5, showcasing his effectiveness.
Later on, Nabi showcased his exceptional skills with a stumping of Logan van Beek. The delivery was flighted and deceptive, dipping late and fooling the batsman entirely. It was the type of delivery that pleases fans of all backgrounds and preferences, captivating cricket enthusiasts regardless of their age, preferences, or favorite players. This wicket was evident proof of Nabi’s exceptional bowling abilities, as his unpredictable speeds throughout the over kept both van Beek and Sybrand Engelbrecht off-balance, preventing them from settling.
Afghanistan showed their amazing fitness levels and athletic prowess in this game. There is no denying the fact that the Dutch batters were wayward with their running, but there were occasions where it was down to the Afghans to take the initiative.
Ikram Alikhil was fantastic behind the wickets – taking two sharp catches off-spin bowling, an electric stumping, and a brilliant piece of quick thinking that led to the dismissal of Colin Ackermann. Azmatullah Omarzai hit the stumps from the boundary line, a direct hit to send Max O’Dowd back. Rashid and Nabi also played their part in subsequent run-outs.
The Netherlands fielded well, with Scott Edwards pouching Gurbaz being the highlight. But there were not enough runs on the board to challenge a team that is getting stronger as we advance to the final stage of preliminary games.
Sybrand Engelbrecht played well for his 58 off 86 but unfortunately fell victim to a run-out as one of the four Dutch batters to get dismissed in this fashion. Max O’Dowd also looked good with perfect timing of the ball, but his innings of 42 was cut short in the same manner. Mohammed Nabi was fantastic yet again – Using his experience and trickery to secure the figures of 3 for 28. Noor Ahmed bowled well after getting back in the team; he finished his 9-over spell with 2 for 31.
Hashmatullah Shahidi played a captain’s knock for the second time running with an unbeaten innings of 56 from 64 deliveries. Rahmat continued his red-hot form by posting another fifty to give the innings an early impetus. Azmatullah Shahidi’s valuable knock of 31 from 28 came in handy as Afghans looked to boost their NRR. Saqib Zulfiqar, Roelof van der Merwe, and Logan van Beek finished with a wicket apiece for the Netherlands.
The Netherlands was looking good with the bat during the early exchanges of the game. They were on the score of 92 for 2 after 18.2 overs, with Colin Ackerman playing well on 29 from 35 deliveries. Nabi bowled the third ball of the match to Sybrand Engelbrecht, who came down the pitch to plummet the ball straight towards the mid-off fielder. There was never a run there, but Engelbrecht started for the non-striker’s end anyway. Ackermann was slow to respond; he passed only halfway when Rashid threw the ball to the keeper’s end. Ikram Alikhil dismantled the stumps with Ackermann still nowhere to be seen. An unfortunate end to a promising innings.
Scott Edwards is the best player against the spin bowling of the Dutch batting order. The Netherlands skipper tried to steer his first delivery away. The ball hit the inside edge and then deflected off the pads. Edwards was not remotely aware of where the ball went; Ikram Alikhil showed presence of mind by running the batter out before he could even turn. Two wickets in two balls put Afghanistan in control of the proceedings.
Afghanistan recorded their 4th victory of the campaign by beating the Netherlands by 7 wickets with 111 balls to spare.
Player of the Match
For his economical with regular wickets, Mohammad Nabi won the best player of the match award for his figures of 3 for 28.
|Netherlands Total: 179/10 (46.3 overs)||Afghanistan Total: 181/3 (31.3 overs)|
|Sybrand Engelbrecht 58 (86)||Hashmatullah Shahidi 56* (64)|
|Max O’Dowd 42 (40)||Rahmat Shah 52 (54)|
|Mohammad Nabi 3/28 (9.3)||Saqib Zulfiqar 1/25 (3)|
|Noor Ahmed 2/31 (9.0)||Roelof van der Merwe 1/27 (5)|
It was another commanding display from the Afghanistani boys who climbed onto the fifth spot of the table. The Netherlands were outplayed during most of the game, but they also have themselves to blame with some silly run-outs. The win against Pakistan started the Afghan resurgence; now, they are looking like a team bordering on world-class levels. Afghanistan’s next game against Australia becomes more crucial now, with both teams sitting on 8 points, the same amount of points as New Zealand. The Netherlands will play England in their penultimate game on November 8 before finishing off the campaign with a dream outing against the mighty Indians.