Netherlands crush Kenya, but not by enough
The Netherlands fell just short of topping Group B, a thumping win over Kenya not quite enough to pass Scotland on net run rate. Despite an Excellent all-round performance in the field spearheaded by Timm van der Gugten, and a breakneck chase driven by Ben Cooper's 30 ball 59, the Dutch took a couple of balls too many to chase down the 98 run target, and will be left to rue a missed opportunity the day before, where despite being 109-2 after just 50 balls chasing 173, they took another nine overs to beat Canada.
With Scotland having bested Oman by 23 runs that Morning at Goldenacre and Afghanistan's game against Canada at Stirling abandoned, the fourth and third spots in the group were already decided. For Kenya, the equation was simple - a win would see them top the group, a loss would send them home. For the Dutch defeat would mean the same, but Scotland's imposing +1.2 run rate stood between them and the top spot.
Peter Borren got them off to a good start by winning a crucial toss, and opening the bowling with Michael Swart payed off just as handsomely as the off spinning all-rounder had Narendra Patel trapped in front on the fifth ball of the innings. Timm van der Gugten then had key-man Irfan Karim caught behind next over, and when Nehemiah Odhiambo spooned Mudassar Bukhari's third ball to Swart at mid-off the crowd started consulting their spreadsheets.
Collins Obuya and Morris Ouma looked to steady the innings, putting on 45 for the 4th wicket, but by the time Ouma was caught in the deep off Rippon in the 12th over there were still just 56 runs on the board. Obuya pressed on with Rakep Patel and Nelson Odhiambo, but Patel fell to Rippon two overs later and Obuya fell victim to an excellent running catch from van der Merwe off Swart soon after, and his laborious 33 off 48 would be the top score for Kenya.
Van der Merwe clean bowled Shem Ngoche in the next over, and van der Gugten returned to claim two more wickets, finishing with excellent figures of 3-15 in 4. The Kenyans were in the end all out on the last ball for just 97, and with about 8 overs to chase them the Netherlands had half a shot at the top spot.
Openers Staphan Myburgh and Wesley Barresi came out swinging, with 11 runs coming from Otieno's opening over. The loss of Myburgh in the second, top edging Nelson Odhiambo on the pull, did nothing to slow down the Dutch. Ben Cooper joined Barresi at the crease and together the pair smashed their way to a fifty partnership in just 23 deliveries.
By the time Barresi was stumped for an 18-ball 28 off Ngoche on the second ball of the 7th over Cooper had already overtaken his partner and the Netherlands were, not for the first time, on the brink of achieving the improbable.
There was to be no second Sylhet at Myreside however, as Roelof van der Merwe perished second ball - the first of a string of wickets sacrificed to mad pursuit of a quick finish. Cooper was still on a roll, and when the first three ball's of the 8th went for 16 runs to take the Dutch within two runs of victory it seemed the improbable had become inevitable. But Kenya Skipper Rakep Patel found enough turn to evade Cooper's next swing and Karim's swift stumping saw him fall just short of the finish, his 24 ball 59 winning the match but not the Group.
With the Dutch now needing to win with a boundary to claw back their run rate advantage, O'Dowd and Swart both perished looking for the rope. It all ended rather anticlimactically in the end, and four balls too late for the Dutch, as Ngoche bowled the ball down leg to see the Dutch win off a wide.
A second place finish in the end a disappointment for the Netherlands, especially with the possibility of having to face Ireland in their next match should the co-hosts finish third in Group A, but nonetheless an excellent result in an inordinately difficult group.