Seven-wicket win for Dutch in Pretoria
Inevitably, perhaps, it was Ryan ten Doeschate who hit the winning boundary nine balls from the end of an extended third day of The Netherlands' Intercontinental Cup clash with Canada at Sinovich Park, Pretoria on Friday, after three sessions of fluctuating fortunes in an otherwise one-sided game.
It took two days and more for Canada to win a session of this match, but when they did it was with a vengeance.
Resuming on 194 for five and needing 112 more to avoid an innings defeat, they put on 167 off just 33 overs in the pre-lunch session, establishing a 55-run lead and giving themselves an outside chance of pulling off a dramatic victory which would have equalled the reversal in Adelaide earlier this week.
Star of the show was captain Qaiser Ali, who reached a maiden first-class century and who went on to make 174 in an innings lasting nearly four-and-a-half hours and taking 197 balls, with 19 fours and 2 sixes. He shared a stand of 184 for the sixth wicket - a record for the competition- with Don Maxwell, who made 72 off 125 balls before he was tempted into lofting Muhammad Kashif straight to Peter Borren at long on.
None of the Dutch bowlers performed as well as they had in the first two days, with the spinners unable to find a consistent length and the seamers repeatedly straying down the leg side. Ali and Maxwell were quick to punish these errors, and the fielding wilted somewhat under the onslaught
The best bowling of the session came from Kashif, who looked a different bowler when he switched to the pavilion end, and was rewarded with Maxwell's wicket.
Ali's innings finally came to an end 25 minutes after the interval, and it was ten Doeschate who secured the breakthrough. With the first delivery with the second new ball, he had the Canadian captain caught at first slip by van Bunge, and eight overs later he trapped Steve Welsh leg before.
The lead was now 117, and seven runs later ten Doeschate struck again, with Kevin Sandher also dismissed the same way. But Umar Bhatti was batting well, and with Henry Osinde he added a further 55, another record stand for the Intercontinental Cup.
With Osinde playing a supporting role, Bhatti made a career-best 83 not out, and it was not until Dutch captain Smits brought van Bunge back that Osinde came down the wicket and was stumped. Van Bunge finished with four for 163, while ten Doeschate took three for 92. Canada's total was 485, a lead of 179.
The Dutch began their second innings with 33 overs left of normal play, and Zuiderent and de Grooth began positively, scoring freely off any loose bowling and putting on 122 for the first wicket before Zuiderent was caught by Jyoti at point for 41 off Dhaniram's bowling.
De Grooth had taken the leading role in their partnership, and he continued in the same vein until he had made 82. Qaiser Ali used nine bowlers in an attempt to find a way through, but by the time de Grooth was out, caught at deep mid-on trying one lofted drive too many, there were 40 more needed and two overs left of the day's play. De Grooth's innings lasted 130 minutes and came off 113 balls, with 11 fours and one six.
Smits invoked the extra half-hour, and although van Bunge did not last long, his departure brought in ten Doeschate to join Maurits van Nierop, 37 needed in seven-and-a-half overs. Ten Doeschate survived one stumping chance, but otherwise he carried on where he had left off in the first innings, his 31 not out coming from 26 balls as he saw the Dutch through to a first-ever Intercontinental Cup victory.
Although they fought well on this third day, Canada never really recovered from their first-innings collapse, and they sorely missed their absent Antipodean stars, Davison, Bilcliff and Barnett. The win secured second place in the group for The Netherlands, but it will be Canada who contest next year's final by virtue of their outright wins against Kenya and Bermuda.