South Africa crush Dutch to top Group B

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MOHALI – In no mood to brook any Dutch mischief, title aspirants South Africa steamrolled the Netherlands by 231 runs in Thursday’s World Cup match to top Group B. If Ireland’s shock victory against England on Wednesday had rekindled Dutch hopes of pulling off a similar upset, Graeme Smith and his men ruthlessly snuffed them out. To begin with, South Africa rode the marathon 221-run third wicket stand between Hashim Amla (113) and AB de Villiers (134) and JP Duminy’s (40) subsequent 15-ball cameo to post 351-5 after they were asked to bat first. Defending what was the highest total at the Punjab Cricket Association Ground, South Africa mowed down the Dutch top half by the time they reached the 100-mark and polished off the rest for an addition of 20 runs inside 35 overs.
His team now top the group, which was thrown wide open following Ireland’s win over England, with four points from two games. India and England have three points, while West Indies, Ireland and Bangladesh each have two points from two matches.
The top four teams will qualify for the quarter-finals. It was a near-flawless performance by the South African team, who put behind a sluggish start to post an intimidating total and then returned to bury their opponents under the run mountain.
For the team striving to put behind South Africa’s three heart-breaking World Cup semi-final exits, the only worry would be in-form de Villiers’ back problem which flared up on Thursday, forcing him to hand over the keeping gloves to Morne van Wyk. In the Netherlands, South Africa did not have the strongest of opponents but the victory amply demonstrated their impressive balance both in the batting and bowling departments. Against the disciplined Dutch pace bowlers, South African openers struggled to get boundaries but once de Villiers and Amla laid the foundation, Duminy came up with those lusty hits which more than made up for their relatively sluggish start.
In bowling also, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel could not earn the early breakthrough but Jacques Kallis decided to compensate for his batting failure, claiming the first two Dutch wickets. On cue, Robin Peterson (2-22) and his spin colleague Imran Tahir (3-19) stepped up to wreck the Dutch middle and lower order to cap a satisfactory outing for the team.