Paarl: India opened their World Cup campaign with an unimpressive 68-run victory against minnows Holland Wednesday. The most worrying aspect for the Indian fans was the way the much-touted middle-order caved in front of some tight line and length bowling of the Dutchmen.
The Indians suffered the ignominy of being bowled out inside their quota of overs, mustering just 204 runs, but even that proved to be too much for the inexperienced Holland batting line-up.
Leg-spinner Anil Kumble and speedster Jawagal Srinath inflicted the maximum damage, claiming four wickets each, as only opener Daan van Bunge (62) came up with a decent score.
However, India were left with some serious questions to ponder ahead of their big game against defending champions Australia on Saturday. With the exception of Sachin Tendulkar (52), none of the batsmen could really assert themselves against a mediocre Dutch bowling line-up, after skipper Sourav Ganguly won the toss and elected to bat first.
Yuvraj Singh (37) and Dinesh Mongia (42) came up with useful scores that helped India go past the 200-run mark. But they also never looked comfortable. The rest of the batsmen failed to find their bearings.
Tendulkar and Srinath, who returned with figures of four for 30, achieved personal milestones in this match. Tendulkar became the highest run-scorer in World Cup when he moved from 24 to 28 with a boundary, overtaking Pakistanís Javed Miandad, who had 1083 runs from 33 matches.
Tendulkar now has 1111 runs from 23 games. Srinath became only the fifth bowler and second Indian in one-day history to go past the 300-wicket mark, when he dismissed J. Kloppenburg with the fourth ball of the innings.
Srinath joins teammate Kumble, Pakistanís Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis and Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralidharan in the exclusive club.
Tendulkarís wish of coming back to the top of the order was granted, but there wasnít the usual flourish that marks a Sachin-Sourav partnership. They set off cautiously with the intention of spending some time in the middle and get back to form. But the captain was far from his best, and after scratching around for eight, he nicked one to the keeper off Roland Lefebvre.
Rahul Dravid let one to go through the bat and pad, while Virender Sehwag (at No. 3) and Mohammed Kaif hit juicy full-tosses straight to the fielders as India slipped to 114 for five in the 32nd over.
Tendulkar, who struck seven fours in his 72-ball knock, was the third to fall, when a Tim de Leede delivery rose sharply to hit his gloves before going to the keeper. It was left to Yuvraj and Mongia, put on 55 runs for the sixth wicket in the highest partnership of the innings.
Holland were never in the chase, losing wickets at quick intervals, even though Van Bunge held his end up. They were helped by a number of extras conceded, mainly by Zaheer Khan (nine wides, four in an over). The 28 extras were the second highest contributor to Hollandís total.
Having reduced the Dutchmen to 54 for seven in the 22nd over, it seemed India had all but finished their job. But Edgar Schiferli (13) and Jeroen Smits put up defiant partnerships with Van Bunge to delay the inevitable. (PTI)