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Ian Callender (Belfast Telegraph)

Ireland lose again to Netherlands in Rotterdam

Ireland went down to their sixth successive Twenty20 defeat and a fifth in a row to the Netherlands who eased to a four wickets victory with an over to spare.

Even after an electric start by Paul Stirling and James Shannon, who brought up Ireland's 50 after just four overs, a tame last 12 overs, which yielded only 83 runs, let the under-strength Dutch off the hook and a target of 159 was always going to be hard to defend, even on a slow pitch.

Barry McCarthy gave Ireland a lifeline when he bowled the home side's most dangerous batsman, Roelof van der Merwe, and conceded only three runs in the 17th over but captain Gary Wilson then chose to call up Paul Stirling - who had bowled only five overs in his previous 14 T20 games stretching back to the start of 2016 - for the next over.

With just 23 runs required and five wickets in hand, it was always likely to be the over which won or lost the match. Although he took a wicket with the last ball, the Dutch had already helped themselves to 10 runs and the gamble had failed.

Wilson saved Boyd Rankin - who had replaced Craig Young in the only change to the team which lost on Tuesday - to bowl the last over, but in the end it wasn't required, two boundaries off the last two balls of the next McCarthy over by Scott Edwards winning the match and leaving Ireland searching for the winning formula in the shortest format.

They could not have got off to a better start with Shannon, replacing Stuart Thompson as opener, scoring 31 off 21 balls (four fours and a six) and Stirling hitting five boundaries in his 16-ball innings of 27.

Simi Singh, after his late order heroics, was promoted to No 4 but this time lasted only 10 balls before he was bowled by van der Merwe, the former South Africa international, who flew in from county duty in Somerset for the game.

After the fall of his wicket, the boundaries dried up - just three in the next 51 balls and two of them came in successive deliveries from the bat of Kevin O'Brien, immediately after William Porterfield had holed out to deep mid-wicket.

Wilson was content to accumulate in singles which would have been perfectly acceptable if big runs had been coming at the other end, but by this stage the Dutch bowlers were in control and after their batsmen took 63 from the first six overs - two more than Ireland - the result was rarely in doubt.

The squad travel to Deventer today where they will play Scotland in their remaining two games in the Tri-Series on Saturday and Sunday, with the Scots currently ranked higher than Netherlands, although they were bowled out yesterday for 82 by Pakistan, admittedly the No 1 ranked side in T20 cricket.