Thursday dawned with glorious sunshine and as the Sydney Cricket Ground geared up for a double-header, a brief spell of rain raised the odd doubt. But the weather cleared and as the day wore on, cricket prevailed.
Minutes after the match between South Africa and Bangladesh concluded, a sea of blue seeped into the stands.
The Indian fans, still nursing the hangover of the triumph against Pakistan, had another win to savour as Rohit Sharma’s men defeated the Netherlands by 56 runs in the ICC Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 Group 2 match.
Mountain to climb
After India posted 179 for two with skipper Rohit, Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav being among the runs, the Netherlands had a mountain to climb and paused at 123 for nine.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a maiden over and even if Max O’Dowd tried to hustle, the seamer had Vikramjit Singh in a tangle and slipped one into the citadel. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel prised out O’Dowd and Bas de Leede while the batters attempted to hasten the scoring rate.
R. Ashwin then struck twice in an over and even if Tim Pringle hoisted the off-spinner for a six, he couldn’t get past an agile Kohli while trying to loft Mohammed Shami. The rest failed as India seized the contest.
Earlier, Rohit won the toss, elected to bat and watched his opening partner K.L. Rahul exhilarate and exasperate in equal measure. Rahul drove a four off Fred Klaassen in the first over but when Paul van Meekeren ran in, the India vice-captain was trapped in front. Just as Rahul lapsed into silence, a roar emanated from the venue with Kohli walking in.
The noise levels escalated once Rohit warmed up with a six off van Meekeren while the Netherlands captain Scott Edwards used four different bowlers in the first four overs. While Rohit and Kohli buckled down into a partnership, the former enjoyed a reprieve as Pringle dropped him at mid-on off Klaassen.
On 13 then, Rohit moved on with a mix of shots that either blitzed past the ropes or kept the fielders interested. Kohli kept egging Rohit on and the latter’s flicked six off de Leede was all about wristy reflexes and sheer timing.
By the time Rohit (53) holed out in the deep, he had registered a fifty and also strung a 73-run second-wicket partnership with Kohli. At 86 for two in 12 overs, India had a platform to surge ahead and Kohli and Suryakumar ensured that through a breezy 95-run partnership.
Kohli essayed the inside-out drives and ran hard with Suryakumar. The latter eager to unveil his scoops behind the wicket, harried the Netherlands attack while Kohli hoisted Klaassen and in the last over, deposited Logan van Beek over square-leg.
By then Kohli (62 n.o.) had reached his fifty and, off the last ball of the innings, Suryakumar (51 n.o.) joined the club by flicking a six off van Beek and India had a score that the Netherlands could only gape at.