Pakistan ease to victory against Netherlands to make winning start at Cricket World Cup

Rizwan and Shakeel star with the bat before Rauf does the damage with the ball in 81-run victory

Pakistan's Haris Rauf celebrates the dismissal of Netherlands' Paul Van Meekeren during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup match between Pakistan and Netherlands in Hyderabad, India, Friday, Oct.  6, 2023.  (AP Photo / Eranga Jayawardena)
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Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel hit identical half-centuries in an otherwise underwhelming batting effort in their World Cup opener against the Netherlands on Friday, before the bowlers sealed a routine 81-run win for the 1992 champions.

Faced with an achievable target of 287, the Dutch looked on course for a stunning win in Hyderabad at one stage as Vikramjit Singh (52) and Bas de Leede (67) got going, but Pakistan kept chipping away to dismiss the underdogs for 205 in 41 overs.

Haris Rauf (3-43) finished the job by bowling out Paul van Meekeren.

De Leede earlier ripped through the Pakistan line-up taking 4-62 and Colin Ackerman claimed 2-39 after the Netherlands won the toss and decided to bowl, but Rizwan (68) and Shakeel (68) ensured the Asian side made 286 in 49 overs.

Opener Fakhar Zaman was the first to go in the fourth over, lofting a slower ball from Logan van Beek back to the bowler and the Netherlands turned the heat up by taking the prized wicket of Babar Azam for five.

Babar barely looked settled during his 18-ball stint on a dry track that offered plenty of turn and bounce early on and the skipper pulled one to Saqib Zulfiqar at midwicket in Ackermann's first over.

Pakistan limped to 43-3 in the 10 power-play overs after Imam-ul-Haq holed out in the deep, but middle-order batsmen Rizwan and Shakeel steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket partnership of 120.

The Dutch, playing in their first World Cup match since 2011 after coming through the qualifying event, responded as spinner Aryan Dutt had Shakeel caught while paceman De Leede shattered Rizwan's stumps.

De Leede repeated the feat in the 44th over against Shadab Khan (32) and trapped Hasan Ali lbw in the next ball. Mohammad Nawaz was run out for 39 but the rearguard effort ultimately paid off for Pakistan.

Pakistan captain Azam said: "The way Hyderabad have supported, we're very happy and the team has enjoyed their hospitality.

"I'm pretty satisfied. All credit to the bowlers, they started well and then we were able to take wickets in the middle and put pressure on them.

"We lost three wickets early but the way Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel started gave us momentum.

"The century partnership then put pressure on the Netherlands. I liked the way Saud built his innings, he's improved a lot.

"Our bowlers are bowling very well. We stuck to our plans in the first 10 overs, then Haris came on and bowled very quickly."

Netherlands captain Edwards said: "It is a little bit disappointing. I thought we bowled and fielded really well, but to Pakistan's credit they made a few runs at the end. We felt it was about a par score and at 120-2 we felt we were well and truly in the game."

On De Leede's performance, he said: "He is a quality cricketer, isn' he? It is all three departments. I thought he bowled exceptionally well and his innings was awesome. We just needed someone to go with him."

Updated: October 06, 2023, 4:40 PM