It’s the kind of shot the Netherlands batters tried to put into practice at multiple skill camps in Bengaluru prior to their World Cup campaign, after game time against Full Members had eluded them.
Nidamanuru may not have had the time to watch the replay of the shot just yet, but it’s one that will definitely make any highlights reel and he can look back on it fondly, several times over, during a short trip to Vijayawada, where his family lives, with Netherlands’ campaign now wrapped up.
“We try to be diligent and have a look at our packages in terms of analysis. Kuldeep is world class and has taken a lot of wickets. I was trying to study him, even on the bus on our way into the ground,” Nidamanuru explained, thinking back to the shot, which was astonishing because he had to hit both against the turn and with enough elevation to clear the long-off fielder. “I was trying to pick his wrong ‘un, watch videos of his wrist, try to see what you can see. With [good] intent and positivity, when it comes off in your favour, it’s great. But it’s the work that goes into the lead-up to [the execution of the shot] which is nice.”
Nidamanuru is a management professional and hearing him speak of the areas of improvement for Netherlands seemed no less than a presentation of hard facts explained with nuance. On Sunday, Netherlands never really challenged India during their chase, but still had five batters who got off to starts. Barring Nidamanuru, none of the others managed to get to a fifty. They were eventually bowled out for 250 in 47.5 overs.
“We tried to prepare as well as we can, but obviously the level of cricket they [India] are playing at in terms of the execution they have, that’s where we have come up short,” he said. “Our skill, the manoeuvrability of the ball, turning over of strike, the boundary striking in the middle stage – all of it probably doesn’t match up.
“If you look at how Shreyas Iyer played as compared to how we approached the middle stages, you could see the difference. Look, again, we’re a learning team as we’ve said plenty of times before. We’re looking forward to de-briefing, and to continue our evolution overall. The middle [overs] of the game, where the best teams are going at six an over without taking risks, we’re losing five-six wickets. That’s the difference.”
“It’s gone a bit below par, if am honest,” he said. “Leading into this, earlier in the year, I scored a couple of international hundreds, including one in the qualifiers. So coming here, I had expectations to deliver more consistently for the team. That hasn’t happened as well as I would’ve liked, but there’s some positive signs to take forward which I’m happy about.”
What are the lessons he and the rest of the batters have picked up from having played nine different teams across varied conditions in India?
“We’re looking forward to de-briefing, and to continue our evolution overall. The middle [overs] of the game, where the best teams are going at six an over without taking risks, we’re losing five-six wickets. That’s the difference”
“I think in terms of where I’ve been batting personally, playing spin when it’s turning and being able to do that when under pressure [has been the biggest challenge]. I think it’s one thing being able to do it to a certain standard against teams at a lower intensity or at a different level, but when you’re here, [Ravindra] Jadeja’s hitting the top of the stumps every time. So it’s about being able to turn that good ball into a one the will relieve pressure.
“Then against pace, being able to have a plan to negate a bit of that swing and nip in terms of how we go about it as a team. Those sort of skill sets we will continue to work on. This tournament has given us a very good reference point that will certainly help us.”
Netherlands next have a set of ODIs against Nepal in February as part of the World Cricket League 2. They will also soon turn their focus on T20 cricket starting with a few warm-up fixtures against SA20 sides; without any guaranteed international fixtures leading into the T20 World Cup next year, it’s again a case of trying to make do.
“The games in Nepal are very important for us,” Nidamanuru said. “I think we’re going to have to keep our learning package of what we’ve got from this tournament over the last seven weeks, and still hold on to that while we keep looking ahead.”
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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