Day 6 – Match Day 2 vs England Lions at Pune
England Lions: Michael Lumb, Varun Chopra, Gary Balance, Craig Kieswetter © (wk), Ben Foakes, Ben Stokes, Scott Borthwick, Matt Coles, Chris Wright, Jade Dernbach, Simon Kerrigan, 12th Alex Hales.
Netherlands XI: Stephan Myburgh, Michael Swart, Alexei Kervezee, Tim Gruijters, Daan van Bunge, Peter Borrem ©, Tom de Grooth, Wesley Baressi (wk), Pieter Seelar, Paul van Meekeren, Ashan Malik, 12th Tom Heggelman.
England Lions 261/6 in 50 overs
Kieswetter 63 (92)
Stokes 69 (41)
Ballance 40 (59)
van Meekeren 2/34 in 9
Swart 2/45 in 10
Borren 0/39 in 9
Netherlands XI 263/6 after 46.2 overs
Kervezee 96 (92)
Gruijters 51 (65)
Swart 36 (51)
van Bunge 29* (27)
Netherlands XI wins by 4 wickets (34 balls remaining)
Isn’t it amazing how sport and life works? 24 hours ago, the mood in the camp was pretty low, more disappointed that we didn’t give a good account of ourselves than low because of the loss. As I sit in my room now, I can see the guys doing a stretching session in the freezingly cold pool on the ground floor with smiles from ear to ear. The reason being: we bounced back today and beat the England Lions team by 6 wickets. What better way to prove to ourselves that we can compete at this level, by getting a win under the belt.
The managements’ preparation was definitely tested for this game, as it was feared that we would not have 11 fit players in Pune come Friday morning. Keeper Baressi went down late on Thursday evening with a fever, Bukhari was doubtful, and there was still a fitness cloud hanging over Peter Borren. It was quickly decided to truck in a few boys from Mumbai, who were in a training camp at the Cricket Club of India under the guidance of Roland Lefevbre. Tim Gruijters, and back up keeper, Rahil Ahmed, joined the squad late at night, and that meant the coaching staff could sleep a little more peaceful, knowing that we would be covered if anything else crops up.
So, match day started off with management deciding not to risk our premier pace bowler in Bukhari, who may very well have a side strain. Borren declared himself fit, and Baressi was not feeling 100%, but decided to soldier on. So the only changes to yeserday’s team was that Tim Gruijters replaced Bukhari, and Borren came in at the expense of Heggelman. Borren won the toss and chose to bowl first.
We went into this game very thin in the bowling department, as we only had 5 frontline bowlers. If someone had asked us if we would take 262 as a target to chase, we would have taken it, and run. Our bowlers, in particular youngster Paul van Meekeren, put their hands up and took responsibility to deliver a good performance. Tight bowling within the first 10 overs, coupled with wickets at crucial stages meant that we were doing a great containment job with the score at 161/5 after 40 overs. Lumb, Chopra, Balance, and Foakes all in the hut. It took a special innings, together with some poor disincline on our behalf, from Durham boy Ben Stokes, to get The Lions to 262/6. His 69* came off just 41 balls, which included 4 boundaries and 6 maximums. Sweet hitting on a small ground will always be difficult to defend. Which is exactly what we thought going into lunch. If we could get a few partnerships going, hang in there at 4 to 4.5 runs per over, we could pull off an upset here.
Speaking about partnerships, Swart and Myburgh did what they do best, and set the platform with 40 runs for the first wicket. Swart was the dominant of the two today, and when he departed for a very well-played 36, the two at the crease were Kervezee and Gruijters. This time yesterday, I presume Gruijters was stuck in Mumbai traffic trying to get to Pune. Today, he was batting at 4 and facing the heat with the score being 62/2 after 15 overs. Alexei was his old self today, playing with freedom and scoring all around the ground, and was particularly quick to pounce on anything short. What was pleasant to witness, was the way Gruijters was handling himself out there too. Full of confidence, Tim went about notching up his 50 in style. Life is all about taking your chances when you get them, and boy he sure did today. Unfortunately he didn’t last too long after that, when he was trapped LBW with a reverse swinging yorker from Stokes. Kervezee on the other hand was nearing his century, ball by ball. Needing just 53 off the last 11 overs, Alexei tried to pull a ball from Stokes, which ultimately bowled him, in what has to be said was the first mistake that Kervezee did in his whole innings. Falling an agonizingly 4 runs short of the magical three figures, Alexei departed with the score on 210/4. By now the ball was reverse swinging big time, and every ball was a challenge to face, especially for new batters coming in. Borren was trapped LBW for 5, and van Bunge survived some lucky escapes at the other end. De Grooth departed for 5 after trying his trademark reverse sweep against Borthwick. Admittedly he did hit a glorious boundary with the same shot the previous ball. In walked Baressi with just 34 runs needed to win.
The boys looked calm in the middle, but I can tell you that my hands were starting to get sweaty. It’s always a great day for us when we beat some of the ‘big-boys’. Their budgets are quadruple the size of ours, and their depth in players is always impressive. So to see Wesley and Daan finish off the game they way they did, is truly a great effort for a team like us. The team bounced back beautifully today, in what has to said, in workman like fashion, particularly in the batting. All the small stuff that we had been working on, was executed very well out in the middle. Yes, at times we were lucky, but you create your own luck at the end of the day.
The skipper asked for positivity, and accountability this morning, and I think its safe to say that he got what he asked for. Last night in out team meeting, various things were discussed, and at the end of it, I just knew the boys would put in a better performance, regardless of the result. It so happens that on this day, it went our way, due to a solid bowling performance within the first 40 overs, and then capped off by a great partnership of 136 off the same amount of deliveries. Easily the moment of the game, and gives the boys a well deserved day off tomorrow.
A great effort by the lads, which bodes well for a great climax come Sunday, when we take on the England Lions again in a T20 fixture. I have no doubt in my mind that they will come back firing, but so too will we be waiting…