Dutch fall short in tense chase against Scotland
Bertus de Jong
Scotland held their nerve to close out a comeback seven run win over the Netherlands in a knife-edge Desert T20 encounter.
After a disastrous start that saw them stumble to 17-3 in the powerplay, a counter-attacking 67-run stand between Calum MacLeod and Richie Berrington stabilised the Scottish innings before cameos from Con de Lange and Safyaan Sharif lifted them to a total of 148-7.
The Dutch reply got off to a rollicking start as Ben Cooper and Michael Rippon put on a 50 run opening stand at almost 10 and over, but the spin of de Lange and Mark Watt put the brakes on in the middle overs and the mounting pressure saw wickets tumble as the Netherlands subsided to 141 all out.
Having won the toss and invited the Scots to bat, Peter Borren's now traditional gambit of opening with an over of spin payed immediate dividends when Roelof van der Merwe found George Munsey's stumps with the fourth ball of the innings.
Paul van Meekeren added to to Scotland's troubles by eliciting a top-edged pull from Kyle Coetzer two overs later, which was calmly pouched by van der Merwe, before striking again in his next over, a thick edge from Matt Cross parried up by Borren at slip and taken by Wesley Barresi.
With just 17 runs coming off the powerplay, the Netherlands were well on top as Berrington and MacLeod looked to counter-attack. The pair fought their way back into the match with a defiant 57-run stand for the fourth wicket before being dismissed in successive overs, MacLeod knocking his own bails off trying to cut Rippon, and Berrington trapped in front by van der Merwe six balls later.
The wickets did little to slow Scotland however. Con de Lange and Safyaan Sharif hit 22 off 10 and 20* off 11 respectively as, with support from Craig Wallace, they wrested back the initiative. The de Lange opened the 15th over with a six, and Sharif would close the innings in like fashion smashing Ashan Malik high over midwicket and into the scoreboard. With 66 runs coming off the last six overs as Scotland recovered to post a competitive 148-7.
The Dutch chase got off to the shakiest of starts, Ben Cooper narrowly avoiding being bowled on the sweep second ball, and Michael Rippon nearly run out two balls later as Cross failed to gather a fine effort from Sharif at cover. The pair made good use of their luck, the next three overs going for 44 runs, but when Cooper holed out off Josh Davey for 24 in the 6th over with the score on 53, Scotland set about reeling the Dutch back in.
Toby Visée survived just two balls, and was lucky to get that far, Davey having him trapped LBW on the second shout. Barresi was only able to add a belaboured 6 off 11 before being caught off de Lange and a brief cameo from Borren, who struck 15 off 10 before being bowled by Sharif was not enough to put the Netherlands back on top.
De Lange brought Rippon's 40-ball innings of 42 to an end next over, and van der Merwe was trapped LBW by Brad Wheal in the 15th with 42 runs still needed. The pressure continued to produce wickets, van der Merwe and O'Dowd perishing as the required rate crept up, the Dutch stumpling toward the finish with Pieter Seelaar and Timm van der Gugten at the crease, 3 wickets in hand and 16 needed off the final two overs.
Seelaar drove Josh Davey straight into the hands of Sharif at cover on the first ball of the 19th, leaving van der Gugten and Malik to scramble for the final runs. Desperate running did for van Malik on the first ball of the final over, looking for an impossible second after van der Gugten drove Sharif to long off, and last man Paul van Meekeren perished in identical fashion next ball as Scotland pulled off a remarkable comeback to win by seven runs.
The win leaves the Scots well-placed to claim a semi-final spot, though a loss to Oman couple with a Dutch victory over Hong Kong could see it come down to net run rate. For the Netherlands their match against Hong Kong becomes do-or-die.
DESERT T20 TOURNAMENT
At The Sheikh Zayed Stadium
SCOTLAND 148/7 (20 overs; Berrington 38(30), de Lange 22(10), Sharif 20*(11); van der Merwe 2-26, van Meekeren 2-30)
NETHERLANDS 141/10 (19.2 overs; Rippon 42(40), Cooper 24(16); Davey 4-34, de Lange 2-17)
Scotland beat the Netherlands by 7 runs