Hyderabad: Pakistan's Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel hit identical half-centuries in an otherwise underwhelming batting effort in their World Cup opener against the Netherlands on Friday, before the bowlers sealed a routine 81-run win for the 1992 champions.
Faced with an achievable target of 287, the Dutch looked on course for a stunning win in Hyderabad at one stage as Vikramjit Singh (52) and Bas de Leede (67) got going, but Pakistan kept chipping away to dismiss the underdogs for 205 in 41 overs.
De Leede ripped through the Pakistan line-up taking 4-62 and Colin Ackerman claimed 2-39 after the Netherlands won the toss and decided to bowl, but Rizwan (68) and Shakeel (68) ensured the Asian side made 286 in 49 overs.
Haris Rauf took 3-43 and was the pick of the Pakistan attack that was missing the injured Naseem Shah and he finished the job by bowling out Paul van Meekeren.
De Leede, the son of former Dutch player Tim who featured in the 1996 World Cup in the Asian sub-continent, was in a menacing mood as he smashed six fours and two sixes, including a hooked shot over the boundary off paceman Rauf.
He celebrated that shot by cheekily winking at Rauf, who had struck the all-rounder in the face with a fiery bouncer during last year's Twenty20 World Cup.
But the 23-year-old De Leede was bowled by Mohammad Nawaz and the Dutch challenge fizzled out despite some late hitting by Logan van Beek.
Pakistan were tottering at 38-3 at one point and captain Babar Azam said he was happy to come away with a victory.
"I'm satisfied," said Babar, who thanked the Hyderabad fans after their first game in India in seven years.
"Credit to the bowlers, we started well and took wickets in the middle overs to put the pressure on them.
"After we lost three wickets, Rizwan and Shakeel started building the momentum... the way Saud built his innings shows his improvement." Opener Fakhar Zaman was the first to fall in the fourth over, lofting a slower ball from Logan van Beek back to the bowler and the Netherlands turned the heat up by taking the prized wicket of Babar for five.
Babar barely looked settled during his 18-ball stint on a dry track that offered plenty of turn and bounce early on and the skipper pulled one to Saqib Zulfiqar at mid-wicket in Ackermann's first over.
Pakistan limped to 43-3 in the 10 powerplay overs after Imam-ul-Haq holed out in the deep, but middle-order batsmen Rizwan and Shakeel steadied the ship with a fourth-wicket partnership of 120.
The Dutch, playing in their first World Cup match since 2011 after coming through the qualifying event, responded as spinner Aryan Dutt had Shakeel caught while paceman De Leede shattered Rizwan's stumps.
De Leede repeated the feat in the 44th over against Shadab Khan (32) and trapped Hasan Ali lbw in the next ball.
Nawaz was run out for 39 but the rearguard effort ultimately paid off for Pakistan.
"It's a bit disappointing. They made a few runs at the end there but we felt like that was a par score," said Dutch captain Scott Edwards.
"At 120-2 we felt we were well and truly in the game."