New Delhi: Yuvraj Singh scored a match-winning 51 not out as India pulled off a five-wicket win against a spirited Netherlands after making heavy weather of a small target in the World Cup on Wednesday.
Chasing 190 under lights, India were reeling at 99-4 after a three-wicket burst by left-arm spinner Pieter Seelaar but scraped through with 81 balls to spare before a packed Firoz Shah Kotla Stadium.
Yuvraj, who also grabbed two key wickets, has come to India’s rescue twice in as many games after starring with both the bat and the ball against Ireland on Sunday.
The win maintained India’s near-perfect run in the tournament and virtually assured them of a place in the quarterfinals with two more league matches to go.
The Indians are now on top of Group B with seven points following three wins and a tie. Netherlands were in danger of ending up with the wooden spoon, going down to their fourth defeat in a row.
India began their chase in style with Sachin Tendulkar (27) belting three fours in a row off Ryan ten Doeschate to become the first player to complete 2,000 runs in the World Cup.
Virender Sehwag scored a typically aggressive 39 off 26 balls with five fours and two sixes before slicing slow left-armer Peter Seelaar to point where he was caught by Alexei Kervezee.
Seelaar struck twice in his next over to remove Tendulkar and Yusuf Pathan in the space of four balls.
Tendulkar tried to smash the bowler to the long-off boundary but an alert Bradley Kruger swooped down to take a fine catch while Pathan offered a simple return catch, stunning the capacity crowd into silence.
India appeared in deep trouble after Virat Kohli was bowled by captain Peter Borren but Yuvraj and Gautam Gambhir put on 40 runs for the fifth wicket to arrest the slide.
Earlier, spinners Piyush Chawla and Yuvraj shared four wickets while fast bowler Zaheer Khan grabbed 3-20 as the Dutch slipped from a healthy 99-2 to be bowled out off 46.4 overs after electing to bat.
Borren offered the only resistance with a late cameo of 38 runs off 36 balls, containing three fours and two sixes.
The Dutch were off to a steady start with openers Eric Szwarczynski and Wesley Barresi negotiating India’s bowling attack with surprising ease in the first 15 overs.
Szwarczynski, one of two changes in the Netherlands team, hit Zaheer for two fours in an over and looked composed until he was bowled by a googly from leg-spinner Chawla.
Yuvraj struck in his very first over when he had Barresi (26) trapped leg before for his 100th wicket in one-day internationals.
The all-rounder gave India another breakthrough when ten Doeschate (11) offered an outside egde which was superbly pouched by Zaheer just inches from the long-off boundary.
It was all downhill for the Dutch from there on, with Tom Cooper (29) edging to wicket-keeper Dhoni in Ashish Nehra’s second spell with the old ball and Bas Zuiderent trapped lbw by Zaheer for a duck.
E. Szwarczynski b Chawla 28
W. Barresi lbw b Yuvraj 26
T. Cooper c Dhoni b Nehra 29
R. ten Doeschate c Zaheer b Yuvraj 11
A. Kervezee c Harbhajan b Chawla 11
B. Zuiderent lbw b Zaheer 0
T. de Grooth run out 5
P. Borren c Nehra b Zaheer 38
B. Kruger run out 8
Mudassar Bukhari b Zaheer 21
P. Seelaar not out 0
Extras: (b6, lb3, w2, nb1) 12, Total (all out; 46.4 overs) 189
Bowling: Zaheer 6.4-0-20-3, Nehra 5-1-22-1, Pathan 6-1-17-0, Harbhajan 10-0-31-0 (w2), Chawla 10-0-47-2 (nb1), Yuvraj 9-1-43-2.
V. Sehwag c Kervezee b Seelaar 39
S. Tendulkar c Kruger b Seelaar 27
Y. Pathan c and b Seelaar 11
G. Gambhir b Bukhari 28
V. Kohli b Borren 12
Yuvraj Singh not out 51
MS Dhoni not out 19
Extras: (w4) 4, Total (for five wickets; 36.3 overs) 191
Bowling: Bukhari 6-1-33-1 (w2), ten Doeschate 7-0-38-0 (w2), Seelaar 10-1-53-3, Borren 8-0-33-1, Cooper 2-0-11-0, Kruger 3.3-0-23-0.(AFP)