Balbirnie delivers telling blow to Dutch
Andrew Balbirnie top scored with 68 as Ireland got their World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start with an emphatic 93-run win (DLS) over European rivals The Netherlands.
The Pembroke man was hit on the helmet by a Ryan ten Doeschate short-ball but it was he who delivered what could be a telling blow to the Dutch hopes of securing one of the only two slots available at this cut-throat tournament.
The Dubliner wasn't able to field as he went for a scan, but the good news is that he was given the all-clear, returned to collect the Man of the Match accolade, and will be available for Ireland's next game against Papua New Guinea on Tuesday.
After being put in to bat under grey skies, Irish openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling adopted a safety first approach to give their side a solid platform.
The pair added 59 in 82 balls before Stirling (20) perished, pulling a Van Meekeren short ball to deep midwicket.
Porterfield (47) and Ed Joyce (32) continued the careful approach as the determined Dutch kept the shackles on.
However the complexion of the game changed as Balbirnie was joined by the experienced Niall O'Brien who batted positively from the outset. O'Brien hit 5 fours and 2 sixes in a quickfire 49 from just 35 balls, adding 101 in 82 balls with Balbirnie.
However he fell attempting to hit a fourth consecutive boundary off Kingma. Gary Wilson and birthday boy Kevin O'Brien both fell cheaply to Van der Gugten (3-59) as the Dutch rallied.
Balbirnie however completed his 8th half century for the Boys In Green, and with breezy cameos from Barry McCarthy and George Dockrell, Ireland finished on 268 for 7.
Rain during the interval saw nine overs taken off with the Dutch still needing 243 - DLS favouring the Irish on this occasion.
Early wickets for Tim Murtagh (3-28) and Barry McCarthy (2-28) had the Dutch in early trouble, and when Kevin O'Brien (2-28) struck a double blow in quick succession running out Borren and trapping Ryan ten Doeschate lbw, the contest was effectively over.
Boyd Rankin (2-19) removed the dangerous Van der Merwe and wrapped up the match by having top scorer Van der Gugten (33) caught by George Dockrell.
"It was a really good team performance and we built on the form and confidence from the previous few weeks," said Niall O'Brien afterwards.
"I feel in good form and have done for a while. I never pay too much attention to warm-up games as I need the competitive juices to be flowing," added the feisty left-hander.
O'Brien admitted he didn't want the contest to be shortened to 20 or 25 overs, but was happy at the eventual reduction.
"I wasn't too worried when it was 41 over game I didn't want a 20/25 over chase as we know how dangerous Holland can be, and how good a team they can be when they get on top. The wicket was good and stayed fairly similar - if anything the rain helped the pitch but maybe slowed the outfield.
"It was a lovely 34th birthday day present for the big man (Kevin O'Brien) and his run out of Pete Borren and getting Tendo (Ten Doeschate) lbw won us the game. Lots of games and work to do but we have set our standard there."
Ireland captain William Porterfield was also happy at the complete all-round performance but knows it's just the first step.
"We think 250 on that pitch would have been a par score, so to get above that we were happy. In terms of other results today, our view is that this is the first game of the tournament - we can't look past our next game against PNG. Our focus is to come out of our group with the maximum number of points as possible, so it is kind of irrelevant at this stage how others performed."
- Toss won by Peter Borren
- Teams line up for the anthems
- Vivian Kingma
- Paul Stirling scored 20
- Delighted Roelof van der Merwe took 1 for 32
- Runs for Andrew Balbirnie
- Andrew Balbirnie acknowledges applause for his fifty
- Swept by Andrew Balbirnie on his way to 68
- Netherlands opener Wesley Barresi
- Tim Murtagh shows football skills
- Huge appeal by Kevin O'Brien
Ireland's winning moment against the Netherlands
- Man of the Match Andrew Balbirnie (4 March, ©CricketEurope)
- Ireland captain William Porterfield after the 93-run win against The Netherlands (4 March, ©CricketEurope)
- William Porterfield interviewed by Sami Ul Hasan (4 March, ©ICC)
- Netherlands captain Peter Borren (4 March, ©ICC)
- Press conference with Andrew Balbirnie (4 March, ©ICC)