In a thrilling ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 encounter at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad, Pakistan kickstarted their campaign with an exhilarating 81-run triumph over a spirited Netherlands side. Fast bowler Haris Rauf starred with three crucial wickets to bring the Dutch innings to a close in the 41st over. However, it was not without a valiant effort from the Netherlands, as they gave Babar Azam’s Pakistan team a scare in their tournament opener.
All-rounder Bas de Leede emerged as a shining star for the Netherlands, not only contributing significantly with the bat by top-scoring with 67 runs but also making an impact with the ball, claiming four wickets. Dutch opener Vikramjit Singh added to the excitement with his impressive 52 runs, forming a formidable 70-run partnership with De Leede that momentarily threatened to deliver a shock defeat to Pakistan in their inaugural match.
Pakistan’s fast bowlers, including Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, and Shaheen Shah Afridi, combined forces to take six wickets among them, ensuring their team a victorious start to the tournament. The spin trio of Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, and Mohammad Nawaz also chipped in with crucial wickets, each taking one apiece.
The contest began with Pakistan being bowled out for a total of 286 runs, marked by noteworthy half-centuries from Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Rizwan. However, De Leede’s exceptional performance with the ball, finishing with figures of 4-62, allowed the Netherlands to bounce back into the game. Shakeel’s scintillating 52-ball 68 and Rizwan’s solid 75-ball 68 had propelled Pakistan’s innings after they were put into bat.
The Netherlands justified their decision to bowl first as pacer Logan van Beek dismissed Pakistan’s out-of-form opener, Fakhar Zaman, for just 12 runs in the fourth over. Spinner Colin Ackermann then claimed the prized wicket of Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who could only manage five runs. Paul van Meekeren contributed to Pakistan’s early woes by dismissing Imam-ul-Haq for 15 runs, leaving Pakistan struggling at 38-3.
However, Shakeel and Rizwan, making their World Cup debut, displayed remarkable composure to steady the ship with a solid 120-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Just when it seemed Pakistan was regaining control, the game took a dramatic turn as three wickets tumbled in the space of 24 balls for a mere 30 runs.
Pakistan received a much-needed boost as Mohammad Nawaz (39) and Shadab Khan (32) combined to add 64 crucial runs for the seventh wicket. But De Leede, with his all-round brilliance, dismissed both Shadab and Hasan Ali in consecutive deliveries. Nawaz’s run-out in the 47th over marked another turning point before Haris Rauf’s dismissal by Ackermann brought the Pakistan innings to a close in the 49th over.
In the end, Pakistan’s total of 286 proved to be enough as their bowlers, led by Haris Rauf’s superb effort, secured an 81-run victory over the Netherlands. The thrilling contest was a perfect curtain-raiser for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 and showcased the resilience and determination of both teams.
This electrifying clash not only highlighted the competitive spirit of cricket but also served as a testament to the unpredictability of the sport. As the tournament progresses, fans can expect more nail-biting encounters and memorable moments on the cricketing field.