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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

It wasn't an easy win: Max O'Dowd

 Max O'Dowd scored an important half-century in Netherlands' win.

Max O'Dowd scored an important half-century in Netherlands' win. © AFP

The Grand Prairie Stadium in Dallas witnessed a surge of Nepal fandom on Tuesday. Fans turned up in big numbers for their side's T20 World Cup opener and sang through the evening even as their side fell short against Netherlands. Max O'Dowd, the chief architect of the said downfall, reckoned the chase of 106 that looked straightforward was anything but.

"I definitely wouldn't say it was easy and a World Cup win is amazing, any World Cup win is great. And I think our bowlers bowled extremely well to restrict them to 106 but you see Nepal have so much fight and spirit that they managed to bring it down to what it was. I don't think it was ever a case of it being an easy win," O'Dowd said.

Netherlands bowlers put in a fine collective effort, led ably by left-arm spinner Tim Pringle [3-20] and medium-pacer Logan van Beek [3-18] to bundle out Nepal for just 106. But in a World Cup that has been low-scoring so far, and has even had a Super Over in a 109-v-109 game, Netherlands had to be careful not to get complacent in the second innings. They were jolted early with the wicket of opener Michael Levitt, after which O'Dowd went on to stitch multiple partnerships to see the chase out in the 19th over. Nepal dropped a couple of catches but were still electric on the field, and made the chasing side toil for each run.

"Personally, I felt like I really had to think about what was best for the team in certain situations and you could see the pressure they were putting on us, the way they field. I think they're one of the best fielding units in the world. So, they put a lot of pressure on us and definitely didn't make it easy. But I'm just happy that we managed to get over the line," O'Dowd opined.

Part of Nepal's grit on the field was because of what resonated from the stands in the form of support for the team. So much that it reminded O'Dowd of playing in Nepal.

"It was very similar to TU (Tribhuvan University International Stadium in Nepal). I think there's probably another 10,000 in TU, so it was a little bit different. But playing in front of fans like that is, I think, a privilege. I think it's amazing. It's not something we get to do often as an associate cricketer and that's why I always love playing against Nepal - in Nepal as well," O'Dowd said.

The feeling of having such a big crowd against him and his team also egged O'Dowd on to take his team over the line. Even with Nepal applying nagging pressure through the middle and death overs, O'Dowd stayed patient in his 48-ball knock of 54. From 11.2 to 18th over, Netherlands were denied a four or a six, but O'Dowd successfully broke that rut and hastened his team's win. The equation was down to 13 off the last 12 balls when O'Dowd hit Abinash Bohara for a four and a six off successive balls in the 19th over to kill the chase.

"For me, it's just I guess trusting the processes that I have and I feel like a lot of us guys are probably quite similar. We have nerves and stuff before the games. You see the crowd. It kind of builds up. But then once you step over that line, it's just another game of cricket, really. And you try not to let it annoy you or get in your head. But yeah, for me, I really love it," O'Dowd said.

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