Bertus de Jong
Roelof van der Merwe struck a breakneck 35 off 15 balls to see the Netherlands to a hard-fought victory over Oman in their opening Desert T20 match. A counter-attacking 57-run partnership between Khurram Nawaz and Naseem Khushi had lifted Oman to a competitive total of 146 after the Dutch had dominated for much of the first innings, and two wickets in the first over of the Netherlands reply had left Peter Borren's side under serious pressure.
A somewhat belaboured rebuilding effort from Wesley Barresi and Michael Rippon pulled the Dutch back into the game, but it was left to van der Merwe to provide the acceleration, taking his team home with four balls to spare.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Oman got off to a decent start with Zeeshan Maqsood and Arun Poulose taking 17 off the first two overs, but were pegged back when Paul van Meekeren and Timm van der Gugten both struck with the last balls of their second overs.
Maqsood was looking dangerous, hitting Ahsan Malik for 3 fours in the last over of the powerplay, but was unlucky to be run ut for 34 as he was backing up when Michael Rippon deflected a straight drive from Khawar Ali onto the stumps.
Rippon and Roelof van der Merwe's spin kept things tight in the middle overs, Oman going seven overs without a boundary. Lalcheta eventually broke the shackles on the last ball of the 13th, depositing van der Merwe over long off for six, only to be shambolically run out next ball. A swirling top edge was dropped by Rippon off his own bowling, a missed shy at the stumps followed by a misfield tempted Lalcheta into a second run, but not Khawar Ali, and Lalcheta was left stranded in the middle of the pitch.
Ali was stumped three balls later and returning skipper Sultan Ahmed managed only one run before being trapped LBW by van der Merwe. The mini collapse left Oman on the ropes, van der Merwe and Rippon's spells of 25-1 and 15-having kept the total in double figures until the 17th over.
But Oman would finish strongly when the seamers returned. Malik and van der Gugten came in for more punishment, and Paul van Meekeren's figures were rather spoiled when his final over went for 12 runs - though the birthday boy nonetheless finished with a more than creditable 1-21 from his four overs. The last five overs went for 52 runs in the end, as Khurram Nawaz and Naseem Khushi wrested the momentum away from the Dutch, setting a target of 147.
Bilal Khan the put Oman firmly in the driver's seat in the first over, removing Stephan Myburgh and Ben Cooper with successive deliveries. Wesley Barresi and Michael Rippon looked to rebuild, but again spin in the middle overs proved hard to get away, Maqsood and Khawar Ali keeping a lid on things. Barresi and Rippon pressed on but struggled to find fluency, putting on a 93-run partnership at barely over a run-a-ball.
By the time Rippon finally went for 40 in the 15th over the required rate was up over 9, and when Barresi followed him four balls later, 2 short of a half century, van der Merwe and Peter Borren were left with a daunting target of 46 in 4.4 overs.
Van der Merwe quickly grasped what was required, deploying an array of ramps and scoops as he raced to 27 off 11 balls, but lost his partner on the final ball of the 18th as Borren top edged a sweep off Kushi behind.
With 18 required off the last two overs the match hung in the balance, but Max O'Dowd knocked the scales clean off the table with a booming six over mid-off on the fourth ball of the 19th off Kalemullah. Van der Merwe was fittingly the man to deliver the final blow, cutting Khan through backward point to finish a match winning 35 off 15 balls and see the Dutch cross the line with 4 balls and five wickets in hand.
DESERT T20 TOURNAMENT
At The Sheikh Zayed Stadium
OMAN 146/7 (20 overs; Zeeshan Maqsood 34(31), Khurram Nawaz 26*(18), Naseem Khushi 25*(19), MGJ Rippon 1-15, PA van Meekeren 1-21)
NETHERLANDS 148/5 (19.2 overs; W Barresi 48(50), MGJ Rippon 40(38), RE van der Merwe 35*(15), Mohammad Nadeem 2-24)
Netherlands beat Oman by five wickets