Ireland clear the final hurdle in style
In prospect it was a match to savour, but in the event the final Super Four match between Ireland and The Netherlands turned out to be an anticlimax. The Irish were a class better than the Dutch in all departments of the game, and the margin of 65 runs - massive in a Twenty20 context - was a fair reflection of the difference between the sides.
Ireland's total of 151 for six was founded upon Alex Cusack's 44-ball 65, at that point arguably the best innings of the tournament, and he totally negated the effect of Ryan ten Doeschate's initial strike by dismissing William Porterfield with the total on only 11.
With Niall O'Brien playing an uncharacteristically subdued role, it was Cusack who took on the Dutch attack, hitting a series of fine strokes in scoring 39 out of a second-wicket stand of 49. O'Brien eventually drove Mohammad Kashif to Peter Borren at mid-on, and soon after Trent Johnston was well caught on the long off boundary by Mark Jonkman off Pieter Seelaar.
At 65 for three after ten overs the Irish innings hung in the balance, but Cusack kept up the momentum, hitting both spinners for six. When he fell it was to a truly astounding catch, Daan van Bunge running away at extra cover and lunging forward to take the ball in his left hand. That was off Jonkman, who took a return catch off the final ball of the same over to leave Ireland on 98 for five.
A total of 160-plus had seemed on the cards when Cusack was in full cry, but it took some enterprising batting from Gary Wilson and John Mooney to get Ireland through to 150, despite a great 18th over from Mudassar Bukhari in which he bowled Wilson for 29 and conceded just four runs.
It was a substantial target to chase, and the Dutch got off to a disastrous start when Peter Connell bowled Alexei Kervezee with the fourth ball of the innings and then trapped Bukhari, sent in as a pinch hitter, leg-before with the sixth.
Eric Szwarczynski and Bas Zuiderent put together the best stand of the innings with 39 from 40 balls, but Johnston produced another miserly spell, conceding only 14 runs from his four overs and finishing off by trapping Zuiderent in front and then bowling Szwarczynski.
Daan van Bunge joined Ten Doeschate, but when George Dockrell replaced Johnston he came down the wicket swinging at his first ball, missed, and was comprehensively stumped. That was the beginning of the end: Borren pushed the ball around for a couple of overs before becoming Dockrell's second scalp, and then Atse Buurman edged an André Botha delivery to keeper Niall O'Brien. At 66 for seven the Dutch were down and almost out.
Ten Doeschate was still there, however, and he defiantly hit first Dockrell and then Botha for six. But it couldn't last, and the Essex man hit Botha's next delivery straight to Connell at third man. Jonkman and Seelaar saw out the rest of that over, but in the next first Seelaar and then Jonkman holed out to Kevin O'Brien at long on, giving Dockrell four for 20 and ending The Netherlands' involvement in the tournament.
Ireland had bowled very well indeed, and the Dutch batting was unable to cope when it mattered most. After their fine performance against Afghanistan on Friday, it was a most disappointing conclusion, but for Ireland the Caribbean, the scene of their 2007 exploits, beckons once more.