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Match Report
Rod Lyall

This win confirmed Ireland's participation in the 2011 World Cup.

Ireland ruthlessly exposed The Netherlands' limitations on Wednesday, winning by six wickets in Pretoria with 33 balls to spare in a match they had controlled from the outset. Without Ryan ten Doeschate, and batting first after William Porterfield won the toss, the Dutch reshuffled their batting order, with Mudassar Bukhari opening with Alexei Kervezee and Darron Reekers dropping down to seven. It was an interesting idea, but it failed to pay off when in the fourth over Bukhari played a loose shot to Boyd Rankin and was caught at backward point. Eric Szwarczynski went for a second consecutive duck, and Ireland were in charge at 22 for two.

Kervezee produced another fine innings, top-scoring with 77, and he was involved in stands of 41 with Daan van Bunge, 48 with Bas Zuiderent and 52 with Peter Borren, but until Borren arrived the Dutch batsmen found it impossible to accelerate the scoring rate against an attack which was at best very lively and never less than steady. Van Bunge, on 21, was controversially dismissed when a Regan West delivery flew high behind square and Trent Johnston dived forward to grasp it. It was a great catch, but there was uncertainty about whether the ball had come off the bat, and when the umpire's finger went up Van Bunge waited for a moment or two before trudging off.

Zuiderent made 27 before he was caught by Alex Cusack off Johnston's bowling, and with Borren's arrival the run rate began to climb for the first time: he and Kervezee added their 52 at better than a run a ball before Kervezee, who had faced 112 balls and hit six fours and two sixes in reaching his 77, was smartly stumped by Niall O'Brien off Cusack. Borren became Cusack's second victim two overs later, having made a rapid 24, and then Reekers, after hitting Connell for a splendid six, became the third, and The Netherlands were 182 for seven. Tom de Grooth kept things going with a 19-ball 24, getting the score past 200, but with Rankin and Connell coming back at the end the last wicket fell of the scheduled final delivery with the total on 222.

Cusack finished with three for 26 and Rankin with three for 48, with Connell collecting two for 35.

Porterfield and Gary Wilson began confidently when Ireland replied, putting on 60 for the first wicket and seeing off Schiferli (who again bowled very well, and entirely without luck) and Bukhari. Reekers also failed to achieve the breakthrough, but then Borren came into the attack and with his first ball had Wilson caught behind by Smits.

Porterfield was joined by Eoin Morgan, and their partnership of 117 in 17.3 overs was the one which effectively settled the issue. Morgan was in supreme form: his partner was on 34 when he arrived at the wicket, and soon reached his half-century, for the third time in the tournament. But then Morgan took over, launching a ferocious onslaught on Pieter Seelaar and racing to his own fifty off just 42 balls. He passed Porterfield in the next over, and had reached a 62-ball 76, with five fours and four sixes, when he tried to hit another big shot over deep midwicket, this time off Bukhari, and Schiferli - who had earlier taken another before overbalancing over the line - completed a fine running, diving catch.

But Ireland were now within fifty runs of their target, and their progress seemed irresistible. Six overs later Porterfield's fine innings came to an end when there was a mix-up between himself and Niall O'Brien which resulted in the Irish captain running almost the whole length of the pitch and back again, failing to make his ground to beat a throw from De Grooth. His 78 had come from 105 balls, with seven fours, and it would win him the Man of the Match award.

Schiferli bowled O'Brien in the following over, and Ireland were 198 for four. But any hint of a reversal was quickly stifled by Kevin O'Brien and Andrew White, who proceeded to knock off the remaining runs and make sure of their side's victory. Since Canada lost to the UAE, Ireland are now top of the Super Eight table and certain to play in Sunday's final.

But everything else remains up for grabs: currently fourth, The Netherlands could finish as high as second or as low as sixth. Their ODI status is secure for another four years, but whether they reach a third successive World Cup will depend both on their match against Canada on Friday and - should they lose that one - on results elsewhere. The Canadians are virtually assured of a World Cup spot given their superior net run rate, but it is possible that four teams could finish level on eight points on Friday evening, and then run rate would decide the second finalist and the remaining World Cup places. At the other end of the table, Namibia and Afghanistan (who play each other) and bottom-placed Scotland, who meet the UAE, will be contesting the sixth ODI spot, although the Scots would need a sizable victory to overtake whoever wins the Namibia-Afghanistan clash.

It promises to be another fascinating - and stressful - day.

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