(MENAFN- Gulf Times)
Virat Kohli smashed a second successive half-century as India thrashed the Netherlands by 56 runs in a“near-perfect” performance yesterday to put themselves in a strong position at the Twenty20 World Cup.
The Indians headed into the match on the back of their thrilling last-ball triumph over Pakistan in Melbourne at the weekend, where Kohli also starred with the bat.
They brought some of that energy to a boisterous Sydney Cricket Ground to plunder 179-2 before holding the spirited Dutch to 123-9 in front of 36,000 fans.
Kohli (62 not out off 44 balls) and skipper Rohit Sharma (53 off 39) were both in fine touch, sharing in a 73-run stand.
Suryakumar Yadav, arguably the world's best T20 batsman on current form, was also in the runs, lashing 51 from 25 balls as India crunched 112 from the last 10 overs.“I thought it was a clinical win. When you're expected to win, the pressure is a lot more. This was a near-perfect game for us,” said Rohit.
“Yes, we played a little slow at the start, but that was the conversation between me and Virat, we had to wait on that surface to play the big shots.
“Not too happy with my fifty, but what's important is getting runs – doesn't matter if they are good-looking runs or ugly runs.”
India came to the World Cup in ominous form, winning back-to-back series against Australia and South Africa at home as they target their first global silverware since the 2013 Champions Trophy. Yesterday's dominant win elevated them to the top of Group 2 on four points, ahead of South Africa on three, after the Proteas demolished Bangladesh earlier in the day. The Dutch remain anchored at the bottom after two losses from two. Two of the six teams in the group will make the semi-finals.
“Definitely the noisiest crowd I've played in front of. It was an awesome experience,” said Dutch skipper Scott Edwards.
“It was always going to be tricky chasing 180. Thought we bowled reasonably well, but if you don't get wickets, with the batting order they've got, tough to restrict.”
After winning the toss and choosing to bat in the first-ever T20 between the two teams, Indian opener KL Rahul again failed to fire, trapped lbw by Paul van Meekeren on nine.
That brought superstar Kohli to the crease – cue huge roars from the drum-beating, flag-waving crowd.
He and Rohit clobbered some top-class boundaries, but the tight Dutch attack refused to let them run away with it, restricting India to 67-1 at the halfway point of the innings.
Rohit brought up his 29th T20 half-century in his 144th game, cracking four sixes along the way, before he was out looking for another, taken by Colin Ackermann near the ropes off Fred Klaassen.
Yadav joined Kohli and the runs began flowing more freely.
Kohli reached his second successive 50 and 35th in his T20 career with a single as the pair steered India to a strong total, with a six off the last ball putting gloss on the innings.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent down a maiden to kick things off in the Dutch reply and got his first wicket in his second over when Vikramjit Singh went for a pullshot but missed and the ball clipped the bails.
Spinner Axar Patel was brought into the attack early and struck with his second ball, claiming dangerous opener Max O'Dowd for 16 after he looked to sweep but missed.
Runs were hard to come by and the Netherlands crawled to just 51-3 off 10 overs. The spin of Ravi Ashwin caused all sorts of problems and he removed Ackermann (17) and Tom Cooper (9) in the same over as they went for big hits, with the Netherlands' tail hardly wagging.
India 179 for 2 (Kohli 62*, Rohit 53, Suryakumar 51*) beat Netherlands 123 for 9 (Bhuvneshwar 2-9, Axar 2-18) by 56 runs.
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