The Netherlands opened their World Cricket League Division 2 campaign with a convincing 67 run win over Canada. After a slow start to the Dutch innings, Wesley Barresi upped the tempo in dramatic fashion to take the favourites to a more than respectable total of 250.
A struggling Canadian top order and a titanic effort with the new ball from Vivian Kingma then conspired to make a decent total look monstrous as Canada struggled to 79-6 at the halfway mark. A lower order revival led by Hamza Tariq made a fine spectacle, but came too late to rescue the match for Canada.
Having lost the toss and been put into bat, Dutch openers Stephan Myburgh and Ben Cooper started steadily, but following the loss of Myburgh with 20 on the board Cooper became rather uncharacteristically circumspect, frustrated somewhat by a slowish outfield and a disciplined effort in the field from Canada. Cooper nonetheless pressed on with Eric Szwarczynski, grinding out what must be one of the slowest half-centuries of his career over the course of 93 balls.
The pair took the total into triple figures before Szwarczynski attempted one sweep too many off Nitish Dutta's offspin in the 27th over. Cooper perished soon after, finally looking press the issue, holing out to Parth Desai for 57. Nonetheless given the sluggish and uneven outfield and the long boundaries, the top order had done a decent job of setting a platform for the middle order to push off from.
It fell to Wesley Barresi to up the scoring rate, and so he did. With support from captain Peter Borren, Michael Rippon and Pieter Seelaar, Barresi steadily upped the tempo, scoring with ever greater freedom as the wheels began to come off the Canadian fielding effort. Fumbles and dropped catches began to puncuate proceedings. Barresi himself was twice repreived; once just prior to reaching his half century and once immediately before his 21-run final over blitz to take the Dutch past 250, his personal tally to 83 and passing 2000 List A runs for good measure.
That final over also served to ruin the figures of the previously economical Rizwan Cheema, and indeed of the Canadian bowlers only Nikhil Dutta and Cecil Pervez escaped serious punishment, the former largely because he only bowled four balls to Barresi. Pervez' figures of 2 for 35 from 10 will be one of the few positives for Canada to take from the game, the paceman carrying over his fine form from the warm-up games angainst Zimbabwe A.
Another will be the big-hitting display from keeper-batsman Tariq, whose 55 ball 61 from number 7 nearly reignited what looked like a dead contest. But Tariq's heroics came too late to repair the damage done by Vivian Kingma, whose herculean opening spell of ten consecutive overs - bowled in blistering heat - yielded the wickets of Kumar, Gunasekera, Hansra and, on the final ball of the spell, Dhaliwal, all at the cost of just 32 runs. If Barresi's knock had set up the win, Kingma had practically sealed it before the Canadian innings was half over.
With the run rate climbing steadily towards ten an over, Tariq's display - which featured eight fours and three sixes - did little but provide some entertainment for the spectators. Nonetheless his and Dhindsa's lower order fightback does serve to highlight the difficult questions facing Peter Borren in the middle overs. In this case Michael Rippon stepped in impressively if belatedly to clean up the Canadian tail, finishing with figures of 3-22 in 8 overs as the last three batsmen fell victim to his left-arm wristspin.
Equally encouraging was the performance of Kingma's Tuks Academy classmate Paul van Meekeren, who gave away just 22 runs from his 8 overs and picked up the wicket of Rizwan Cheema. Both he and Kingma are still occasionally erratic, especially when looking to bowl short and aggressively, but Borren and coach Anton Roux will be happy to see both with scalps on the belt.
Canada will look will hope to bounce back against an similarly struggling Kenya tomorrow, as the Netherlands take on Nepal. The Dutch will be going into the game with renewed confidence, whilst Nepal will be looking to excorcise memories of today's defeat to Uganda. One can think of few better ways to do so, as the Netherlands have affirmed their status as the team to beat at WCL Division 2.