GARY WILSON was given another good indicator of just how much his young team will have to improve in the 12 months before the T20 World Cup finals as Ireland lost to the Netherlands by 21 runs in the semi-finals of the qualifiers in Dubai.

After topping Group B to reach the tournament proper in Australia, Ireland had six days off and were perhaps not as sharp as they would have liked, dropping two catches after choosing to field, and the Dutch piled on 52 in the last four overs for a competitive total of 158-4.

Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien set the platform for the chase with 49 runs in the power play but both openers fell to spin as only 10 runs came from the next three overs, and the loss of Gareth Delany and Andy Balbirnie to consecutive balls left too much to do.

The Dutch have now beaten the Boys in Green in the last four T20 global tournaments where they have met, and the teams could be drawn in the same first round group in Australia, either in Geelong, Victoria or Hobart, depending on the final games. The Netherlands play Papua New Guinea in the final, while Ireland take on Namibia for third place.

“The surface was a little bit soft to start and that influenced our decision to bowl first,” skipper Gary Wilson said. “There was help in the pitch and they probably got 20 runs more than we were expecting - 140 would have been a tough enough chase.”

Wilson paid tribute to the bowling of 34-year-old Boyd Rankin who conceded 17 runs from his four overs, as well as removing the dangerous Pete Seelaar, and has been Ireland’s most consistent performer in the seven matches in the United Arab Emirates.

“Boyd has been showing everyone the right lengths to bowl out here,” he said. “He looks to hit the top of the stumps and has done that consistently, making it very hard for batsmen. It helps being six foot eight, of course.”