The Netherlands 109 for 4 (O’Dowd 54*, Vikramjeet 22, Erie 1-6) Nepal 106 (Poodle 35, Pringle 3-20, Van Beek 3-18, Van McCren 2-19) by six wickets

Max O’Dowd’s patient half-century, aided by three wickets from Tim Pringle and Logan van Beek, got the Netherlands over the line in a nervy encounter against a spirited Nepal in Dallas in their opening game of the T20 World Cup 2024. .

It was a rude welcome for Nepal in their first T20 World Cup in a decade, with the Netherlands bowlers doing well to bowl them out for just 106 in 19.2 overs. But Nepal was not yet done. They squeezed the Dutch batsmen in the middle overs and chased it down in the 19th over. O’Dowd, however, held his own with an unbeaten 54. He rode his luck and made sure to take his side over the line with six wickets and eight balls to spare.

Rain and cloudy conditions in the morning delayed the toss by 30 minutes and Dutch captain Scott Edwards had no hesitation in bowling after winning the toss. The bowlers backed up their captain’s decision with Pringle, van Beek, Paul van McCrenn and Boss de Lede all picking up wickets.

In reply, Nepal fought back but missed a few key chances at crucial intervals.

Dallas goes blue and red, but orange has an effect.

The Grand Prairie Stadium can seat 7,000 people but was made to feel much bigger by the vociferous Nepali fans, who got behind their team well and quickly. But cloudy conditions helped the Netherlands seamers and they got their first wicket through left-arm spinner Pringle, whose decision to keep the ball flying paid off as Asif Sheikh’s thick outside edge in the second over. Found a short third. Then pacer Van Beek struck on his first ball, a length ball that was quick to Kaushal Bhartel and caught in front.

Pacer Vivian Kangma also got a lot of action as Nepal’s batsmen found it a tough task to bowl the bat. In the first six overs, Nepal bowled and lost 17 balls out of 36 (47.22%), the most for any team in men’s T20Is (for which ESPNcricinfo has ball-by-ball data available). He hit five fours but managed just three singles and a double in the first six overs as Nepal managed just 29 runs for the loss of two wickets in the powerplay.

A strangulation in between and at death

Rohit Paudel, the youngest captain in the T20 World Cup at the age of 21, kept his cool but lost partners at a steady rate. He pumped Kangma to cover for four in the seventh over, but Pringle came back in his second over and removed Anil Sah, his effort only going to deep backward square leg. Kushal Malla edged Van Meekern over mid-off but fell trying to repeat the shot three balls later, fooled by a slow off-cutter and drove the ball straight up.

Boss de Leyde then had Deepinder Singh Iri caught out at slip as Nepal slumped to 53 for 5 after 11 overs. Podell was busy during his 37-ball 35 but eventually perished giving Pringle his third wicket. Karan KC and Gilson Jha added 22 runs off 17 balls for the eighth wicket – the second highest score of the innings – to take the score to 100. Van Beek ended the inning with two for two.

Nepal Square.

Early wickets were the need of the hour, and Nepal managed that as Sompal Kami had Michael Levitt caught by the cover fielder on his second ball. Both Kami and Karan kept the bowling strong, conceding just four runs in the first 15 balls. Vikramjeet Singh broke the shackles with two back-to-back fours but the run-scoring was slow. Nepal hit 19 dot balls in the powerplay as Netherlands reached 36 for 1 after the first six.

It was going to be tough for Holland in the middle overs with the spinners coming into the equation. Airey conceded just a single in his first over after the powerplay, before dismissing Vikramjeet with a length ball that beat the batsman’s attempt at a slog sweep and caught him in front. An over earlier, Vikramjeet was dropped by Kami at deep backward square leg, but he couldn’t cash.

O’Dowd and Sybrand Engelbrecht tried to steady the ship in a 28-run stand before a run-out brought the latter to an end. O’Dowd drove straight back to Comey, who deftly turned the ball back onto the non-striker’s stumps and gave Engelbrecht a short catch. Nepal made the Netherlands fight for every run, conceding just 48 runs in the middle overs (6 off 15).

O’Dowd led the house of the Netherlands

When Edwards fell cheaply, it looked like the Netherlands’ chase might falter, but O’Dowd put all his experience to work. He curbed his natural aggressive instincts and ensured that he kept his end safe even as the Netherlands went 40 balls without a boundary between the 12th and 18th overs. O’Dowd had a huge slice of luck when Paudel squandered a straightforward chance at long off in the 18th over. They were on 40 at the time and the Netherlands still needed 18 off 17, but the dropped chance seemed to ease his nerves. In the last over, with the Netherlands needing 13 off 12, he hit Abinash Bohara for a four and a six to reach his 13th T20I fifty. De Lied then ended the chase with four through the cover, breathing a sigh of relief in the Netherlands camp and securing two crucial points.

Ashish Pant is the sub-editor of ESPNcricinfo.

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