Netherlands Triumph over Nepal in T20 World Cup Opener

Netherlands showcased dominance against Nepal, securing a six-wicket victory in a thrilling encounter at the T20 World Cup 2024 opener.

Max O’Dowd demonstrated the perseverance needed to complete the chase even though Nepal’s bowlers exerted a great deal of pressure of their own.

Netherlands Triumph over Nepal in T20 World Cup Opener
Scott Edwards and Tim Pringle celebrate Rohit Paudel's wicket •ICC/Getty Images

Nepal 106 (Paudel 35, Pringle 3-20, Van Beek 3-18, Van Meekeren 2-19) lost against Netherlands 109 for 4 (O’Dowd 54*, Vikramjit 22, Airee 1-6) by six wickets.

In their opening game of the T20 World Cup 2024 in Dallas, the Netherlands overcame a determined Nepal thanks to three-wicket hauls from Tim Pringle and Logan van Beek and a patient half-century from Max O’Dowd.

In their first T20 World Cup in ten years, Nepal was met with a brusque reception as the Netherlands bowlers displayed their skill and dismissed them for just 106 in 19.2 overs. However, Nepal was not finished. They forced the middle overs of the Netherlands hitters and led the chase into the 19th over. But O’Dowd, with a perfect 54, held his own. By riding his luck, he ensured that his team crossed the finish line with six wickets and eight balls remaining.

The toss was delayed by thirty minutes due to early morning rain and cloud cover, but after winning the toss, Netherlands captain Scott Edwards bowled without hesitation. With Pringle, van Beek, Paul van Meekeren, and Bas de Leede all taking wickets, the bowlers supported their captain’s call. Nepal fought back, but they missed a few critical opportunities at critical times.

Although Grand Prairie Stadium only has 7000 seats, the enthusiastic Nepali supporters packed the house early to support their side, giving the venue a much larger vibe. However, the cloudy weather helped the Netherlands seamers, who took their first wicket off left-arm spinner Pringle. Pringle’s decision to continue giving the ball flight paid off, as in the second over, Aasif Sheikh’s thick outside edge reached short third.

The first shot Pacer van Beek struck was a length ball that he angled hard back into Kushal Bhurtel’s body, catching him squarely in front.

Vivian Kingma, a fast bowler, too saw significant movement as the Nepali batsmen struggled to hit the ball. Nepal played and missed 17 of the 36 balls (47.22%) in the first six overs, the greatest percentage of any team in a men’s T20I. Despite hitting five fours, they were only able to muster three singles and a two in the first six overs. Nepal lost two wickets and only managed to score 29 runs during the powerplay.

Despite losing partners at a regular pace, Rohit Paudel, at the age of 21, maintained his composure as the youngest skipper at a T20 World Cup. In the seventh over, he blasted Kingma for four over covers, but Pringle returned in his second over to remove Anil Sah, his attempted sweep just reaching deep backward square leg. Midway through the over, Kushal Malla hit a four off van Meekeren, but he fell three balls later when attempting a retake after getting caught off guard by the slower off cutter and spooning the ball straight up.

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After 11 overs, Nepal was down to 53 for 5, when Bas de Leede removed Dipendra Singh Airee, who was caught at slip. While Paudel stayed active during his 35 off 37, he eventually passed away, handing Pringle his third wicket. The eighth wicket stand, which featured 22 off 17 balls from Gulsan Jha and Karan KC, was the second-highest stand of the innings and helped to push the score above 100. Van Beek hit a two-in-two to end the inning.

It was imperative that Nepal secure early wickets, and they did so when Sompal Kami dismissed Michael Levitt with his second delivery, which was caught by the cover fielder. With just four runs given up in the opening fifteen balls, Kami and Karan both maintained a tight bowling attack. With two consecutive fours, Vikramjit Singh broke the mold, but the run scoring was still lethargic. After the first six overs, Nepal bowled 19 dot balls in the powerplay, allowing the Netherlands to reach 36 for 1.

Netherlands Triumph over Nepal in T20 World Cup Opener
Max O'Dowd's undefeated 54 helped the Netherlands win •AFP/Getty Images

With the spinners entering the picture, the middle overs were likely to get more difficult for the Netherlands. After the powerplay, Airee gave up just one run in his opening over before dismissing Vikramjit with a length ball that defied the batter’s attempted slog sweep and caught him in front. Vikramjit was dropped by Kami at deep backward square leg an over earlier, but he failed to capitalize.

In a 28-run stand, O’Dowd and Sybrand Engelbrecht attempted to steady the ship, but the latter was eventually taken down by a run out. O’Dowd hit a clean drive back at Kami, who skilfully redirected the ball onto the stumps of the non-striker, catching Engelbrecht off guard. Nepal forced Netherlands to fight for every run in the middle overs (6 to 15), giving up just 48 runs.

It appeared as though Netherlands’ pursuit could lose direction after Edwards fell cheaply, but O’Dowd used all of his experience. Even when Netherlands went 40 balls without a boundary between the 12th and 18th overs, he controlled his innately aggressive tendencies and made sure he kept his end safe.

In the eighteenth over, at long off, Paudel dropped an easy opportunity, giving O’Dowd a tremendous slice of luck. Even though Netherlands still needed 18 off 17, he was on 40 at the moment, and the missed opportunity seemed to calm him down. He hit Abinash Bohara for a four and a six in the last over, with the Netherlands needing 13 off 12. It was his thirteenth T20I fifty. After that, De Leede wrapped up the pursuit with a four through covers, earning two vital points and causing a sigh of relief in the Netherlands camp.

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