Virat Kohli smashed a second successive half-century as India thrashed the Netherlands by 56 runs on Thursday to put themselves in a strong position at the T20 World Cup. The Indians headed into the clash on the back of their thrilling last-ball triumph over Pakistan in Melbourne at the weekend, where Kohli also starred with the bat. They brought some of that energy to a boisterous Sydney Cricket Ground to plunder 179-2 before holding the spirited Dutch to 123-9 in front of 36,000 fans. Kohli (62 not out off 44 balls) and skipper Rohit Sharma (53 off 39) were both in fine touch, sharing in a 73-run stand.
Suryakumar Yadav, arguably the world’s best T20 batsman on current form, was also in the runs, lashing 51 from 25 balls as India crunched 112 from the last 10 overs.
India came to the World Cup in ominous form, winning back-to-back series against Australia and South Africa at home as they target their first global silverware since the 2013 Champions Trophy.
Thursday’s dominant win elevated them to the top of Group 2 on four points, ahead of South Africa on three, after the Proteas demolished Bangladesh earlier in the day. The Dutch remain anchored at the bottom after two losses from two.
Two of the six teams in the group will make the semi-finals.
That brought superstar Kohli to the crease — cue huge roars from the drum-beating, flag-waving crowd.
He and Rohit turned on the style, clobbering some top-class boundaries, but the tight Dutch attack refused to let them run away with it, restricting India to 67-1 at the halfway point of the innings.
Rohit was in good touch and brought up his 29th T20 half-century in his 144th game, cracking four sixes along the way, before he was out looking for another, taken by Colin Ackermann near the ropes off Fred Klaassen.
Yadav joined Kohli and the runs began flowing more freely.
Kohli reached his second successive 50 and 35th in his T20 career with a single as the pair steered India to a strong total, with a six off the last ball.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent down a maiden to kick things off in the Dutch reply and got his first wicket in his second over when Vikramjit Singh went for a pullshot but missed and the ball clipped the bails.
Runs were hard to come by and the Netherlands crawled to just 51-3 off 10 overs.
The spin of Ravi Ashwin caused all sorts of problems and he removed Ackermann (17) and Tom Cooper (9) in the same over as they went for big hits, with the Netherlands’ tail hardly wagging as they were easily beaten.
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