HYDERABAD: A combined bowling effort after Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel’s anchoring half-centuries propelled Pakistan to launch a triumphant ICC World Cup 2023 campaign with an 81-run victory over the Netherlands.
Set to chase 287, the Netherlands could score 205 despite Bas de Leede and Vikramjit Singh’s half-centuries.
The Dutch had a decent start to the pursuit until Hasan Ali provided a much-needed breakthrough to Pakistan in the sixth over by dismissing Max O’Dowd, who could score five.
Singh then put on a brief 22-run partnership with Colin Ackermann (17), which lasted when Iftikhar Ahmed castled the latter on the first delivery of the 12th over.
Bas de Leede then joined Singh in the middle and the pair partnered strongly to knit the largest partnership of the Netherlands’ innings, adding 70 runs to the total.
The duo frustrated the strong Pakistan bowling attack before Shadab Khan broke the shackles by removing the opener in the 24th over.
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Singh scored 52 off 67 deliveries, laced with four boundaries and a six.
The Netherlands then lost their way in the run chase as they began to lose wickets at regular intervals and soon slipped to 164/7 with their mainstay Bas de Leede also walking back.
He top-scored for the Dutch with a 68-ball 67 which included six boundaries and two sixes.
Logan van Beek offered some resistance with his unbeaten 28-run cameo but Pakistan bowlers booked the side on a modest 205 runs in 41 overs.
Haris Rauf was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan with 3/43, followed by Hasan Ali with 2/33 while Shaheen Shah Afridi, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz struck out a batter each.
Put into bat first, Pakistan could register a below-par total of 286 runs on the board despite anchoring half-centuries.
Pakistan got off to a dismal start as they lost their top three Fakhar Zaman (12), Imam-ul-Haq (15) and Babar Azam (5) with just 38 runs on the board in 9.1 overs.
Following the slump, wicketkeeper batter Mohammad Rizwan was joined by young Saud Shakeel at the crease and the pair launched an astounding recovery.
Rizwan and Saud batted with determination and put Pakistan back in command with a 120-run partnership for the fourth wicket, with both scoring half-centuries.
Aryan Dutt drew a much-needed breakthrough for the Netherlands in the 29th over by dismissing Shakeel, who scored a brisk 68 in 52 deliveries, laced with nine boundaries and a six.
Mohammad Rizwan followed him back to the dugout in the 32nd over. He remained the joint top-scorer for Pakistan with 75-ball 68, hitting eight boundaries.
Pakistan then coped another blow in the same over when Bas de Leede got Iftikhar Ahmed (9) caught behind and consequently slipped to 188/6.
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All-rounders Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz then put together a crucial partnership for the seventh wicket and added 64 runs to the total.
The pair had Pakistan in command to bat through the allotted overs but Bas de Leede struck again to get rid of Shadab in the 44th over which opened the floodgates.
He scored 32 off 34 deliveries with the help of two boundaries.
Pakistan then lost two more wickets in quick succession including their mainstay Mohammad Nawaz walking back after scoring a 43-ball 39.
Tailenders Haris Rauf and Shaheen Shah Afridi added valuable runs to the total with their 19-run partnership before Ackermann got the latter stumped to book Pakistan on a below-par total in their ICC World Cup 2023 campaign opener.
Bas de Leede led the bowling attack for the Netherlands with 4/62, followed by Ackermann’s 2/39 while Dutt, Logan van Beek and Paul van Meekeren made one scalp each.