The game no-one wants
Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)
IT’S the match no one wants to play in, but Ireland have an incentive to win the third/fourth-place play-off against Namibia (10.10am GMT) at the T20 World Cup qualifiers — they will probably avoid the Netherlands in their round-robin group at the finals in Australia next year.
Between 2007 and 2014, Ireland won 15 consecutive games against the Dutch but since the ‘freak result’ at the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, when Ireland failed to defend 189 in 14 overs, the Netherlands have been the dominant team.
Yesterday’s semi-final victory, by 21 runs, was their seventh in the last 10 games between the teams across all formats and the sequence shows no sign of ending with experience continuing to win the day.
The Dutch had plenty of talent but Ireland had the know-how during that seven-year spell, now the roles are reversed as Netherlands’ county stars are proving too good on the big stage for an Ireland team in transition.
Somerset’s Roelof van der Merwe and skipper Peter Seelaar, who made his ODI debut in 2006, spun the Dutch to victory with aggregate figures of 5-36 as Ireland slumped from 84-2 at the start of the 13th over to 95-7.
In contrast, the Ireland bowlers managed just four wickets in their 20 overs as Netherlands totalled 158, some 20 runs more than they should have got if the bowlers had been at their best and the fielding not deteriorated.
Even Harry Tector, probably Ireland’s top fielder, dropped a straightforward chance off the opposition’s best player, Ryan ten Doeschate, albeit in the last over, but the Essex captain and Van der Merwe still plundered 52 from the last four to put their side in control at halfway.
Boyd Rankin was head and shoulders above the rest, conceding only four singles in his last over, the 16th, but after bowling 26 overs in the tournament for just 120 runs, even Mark Adair could not halt the late charge, his final two overs going for 10 and 11.
Craig Young started superbly with two wickets in his first nine deliveries but his last three balls, in the 19th over, went for 4, 6, 6 off the bat of Ten Doeschate.
Ireland made the perfect start to their reply with Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien finishing the powerplay on 49-0 but Van der Merwe had the latter caught at long-off off the last ball of his first over and bowled Stirlo with his next delivery.
It was to prove a feature of the innings with no fewer than three bowlers on hat-tricks and it only confirmed the Oranje’s superiority as the batsmen’s attempt to hit out ended in getting out.
The Dutch will play Papua New Guinea in tonight’s final after their 18-run victory in the second semi-final.