Dutch secure WT20 qualification with nervy win over Namibia
Bertus de Jong
The Netherlands secured a spot in the semi-finals and a place at the World T20 in India with a narrow win over Namibia at Malahide. Early breakthroughs with the ball backed up by discipline in the field, followed by a resilient if nervous combined effort with the bat saw them restrict Namibia to 135 and chase down the runs with 4 balls to spare despite an excellent spell from Bernhard Scholtz.
The win sees the Dutch through to a semi-final encounter with Ireland on Saturday, and guarantees them a spot in the preliminary round of the World T20 in March of next year. For their opponents, a second course in the form of an elimination play-off against Oman on Thursday is their final chance to secure a WT20 berth.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Namibia's innings got off to a nightmare start as some poor running co-ordination saw Gerrie Snyman run out without facing a ball in the first over. Timm van der Gugten then produced a well directed short ball in the second over to induce a steepling top edge from Baard, well held by Roelof van der Merwe at cover, to put the Dutch well in control.
There they would more-or-less remain throughout the rest of the match. Though Craig Williams looked to seize back the momentum with an excellent 43 from 32 balls, Raymond van Schoor struggled for fluency at the other end and by the time Williams holed out off a slower ball from Peter Borren in the tenth over the run rate was still little better than a run a ball. Van der Merwe and Barresi combined to put van Schoor out of his misery 11 balls later, flight and turn dragging van Schoor forward and beating the bat, and Barresi doing the rest.
Merwe Erasmus added just 5 runs to the score before flicking Bukhari straight to midwicket and it seemed the narrative of the innings was to be the story of a panic. The Dutch would remain at least a wicket away from a rout however, as skipper Nicolaas Scholtz and Sarel Burger regrouped to build an accelerating 50 partnership to take them back towards a competitive total.
Scholtz initiated the counterattack by producing two huge sixes off van der Merwe in the 17th over, the first breaking the tiling on the pavilion roof and the second high over long-off and almost over other side of the hedge. By the time Scholtz was dismissed off the penultimate ball of the innings for a 23-ball 37 the Namibians had edged back into the game.
With 135 looking below par but not indefensible, Wesley Barresi's first ball duck, looping a leading edge up for Kotze, put the Netherlands briefly on the back foot. They might have stayed there had Williams not dropped Myburgh off Snyman three overs later, putting down a straightforward chance at at mid-off with Myburgh still on just 8.
It would not be the last helping hand the Dutch would get from poor fielding, and Myburgh made them pay both for the drop and the subsequent excessively short, wide bowling. Together with Ben Cooper, Myburgh got the asking rate under 6 an over by the end of fifth over. Another soft leading edge saw Myburgh go for 31, but the end of powerplay nonetheless saw the Dutch in control, with 49 on the board and needing just a shade over a run a ball to close out the innings.
Namibia would keep fighting through the middle overs however, a wearing pitch and some excellent bowling from Berhard Scholtz keeping them in the game. The Dutch middle order successively got in, accumulated, and got out as the asking rate began to climb. Scholtz' spell of 3-15 in 4 was almost enough to put Namibia on top, but four overs was not enough to do more than rock the other's boat as 7th wicket pair van der Merwe and Max O'Dowd found the boundary in the 16th and 17th overs to put the Netherlands back ahead of the rate.
Van der Merwe perished in sight of victory on what would turn out to be the penultimate ball of the match, backing away for room with a view to going inside-out over cover, but was bested in the flight by Scholtz and could only connect with air as he was clean bowled. Mudassar Bukhari might have been forgiven for feeling under pressure coming in with three still needed from five, but showed no sign of nerves in the eternal moment as he smashed his first ball through cover for four to book the Dutch their trip to the subcontinent.