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Netherlands one step closer to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015

Netherlands moves into second place with WCL Championship victory over Namibia

Netherlands one step closer to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 - Cricket News
Netherlands has stayed on course for a place in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 after winning both its fifth round 50-over matches in the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Championship against Namibia at Windhoek.

Netherlands beat the host by 31 runs in the first 50-over match on Tuesday and then made it two out of two on Thursday by winning the second match by one wicket in a tightly contested match.

The double-win means that Netherlands overtakes Scotland and Afghanistan, both on 11 points, to sit in second position on the WCL Championship table with 14 points.

The top two sides from the WCL Championship will qualify directly for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. The final two positions in the ICC's flagship event will then be determined at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier, which will be staged in New Zealand in 2014.

Netherlands' final two round matches are against table-topper Ireland and Canada, while Namibia will play Afghanistan and UAE. Netherlands will need to win three of its remaining four matches to guarantee its automatic qualification for the ICC World Cup 2015. While Namibia is now out of the race for automatic qualification, the remaining rounds will provide vital preparation for the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2014, which will be held in New Zealand.

In the first match of their fifth round encounter, an all-round team performance steered Netherlands to a 31 run victory, despite a dashing 116 from Namibia's Craig Williams, while half centuries from Wesley Barresi and Daan van Bunge set up the second victory in a thriller on Thursday.

On Tuesday, wicket-keeper Wesley Barresi (60) set the foundation for the Netherlands' innings after a shaky start, and a quickfire ninth-wicket partnership of 47 runs between Mudassar Bukhari and Timm van der Gugten brought the total to 268. Despite a fast-paced 116 from Craig Williams, Namibia was all out for 237 in the 49th over.

On Friday, a 104 run opening partnership between Xander Pitchers (48) and Raymond van Schoor (93 not out), and an unbeaten 51 from Nicolaas Scholtz, saw Namibia reach 236 for 5 from its 50 overs. Barresi (58) and van Bunge (60) anchored the run chase, but the loss of quick wickets put pressure on the Netherlands. It was left to the tail enders to finish the innings, and Netherlands eventually reached 237 for nine, with 12 balls remaining.

Netherlands captain Peter Borren was delighted with the result, saying: "We're absolutely stoked to get the four points. We came here and that was the goal. One way or another, we've achieved that without playing our best cricket. There are things we need to improve on and there's no way we should have won that last game with nine wickets down. But the fact we got four points in this crucial encounter is ? I'm over the moon, actually."

The winning captain praised his bowlers as well as his batsmen for the 2-0 victory: "We set it up pretty well with the ball on good batting decks. I think we were happy chasing 230-odd, which was the case in the second game. It took a very good innings from Daan van Bunge to get us over the line, and a gutsy innings, and one which could be crucial heading for 2015 qualification."

Reflecting on his team's performance to date, Borren says that the side doesn't feel pressure to secure direct qualification to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: "We just go into every game trying to get two points, and we've done ok. I think every team would be the same. If they look back at the results over this competition, which has been very competitive, I think every team will have regrets on certain occasions. We certainly have those, having lost twice in Scotland to start the competition. I think we've done well to get into the position we're in now, we've played some really good cricket, we've won some close games, and I think we need to push on from here."

While disappointed with the result, Namibia captain Sarel Burger praised his side's batting performances, saying: "Our batting really did improve over the last couple of months, the players have started taking responsibility by valuing their wickets and staying calm in pressure situations. I was really happy with the way the batsmen performed in the last couple of games."

Burger believes that the side felt no extra pressure for the crucial fifth round encounter, saying: "There is always pressure when playing any international team, at the end of the day you are representing your country. The qualification was in the back of our minds but winning for your country is always top of the list."

Earlier in the week, Namibia defeated Netherlands by 82 runs in their four-day first-class encounter of the ICC Intercontinental Cup. Namibia now sits in third spot, with 57 points and Netherlands is in sixth spot on 36 points. The competition continues to be led by Ireland, on 76 points.

WCL Championship matches live streamed

The fifth round encounters between Afghanistan and Scotland, and UAE and Ireland, were the first of 16 matches that the ICC live streamed during the final rounds of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship.

Forthcoming matches

Following is the schedule of the forthcoming matches:

Sixth round**
Scotland v Kenya*
Netherlands v Ireland*

Canada v UAE

Namibia v Afghanistan

Seventh round**
Ireland v Scotland*
Afghanistan v Kenya*
Canada v Netherlands*
UAE v Namibia*

* Denotes remaining matches that will be live streamed at www.icc-cricket.com
** Dates and venues of these fixtures will be announced in due course

The points table of the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship can be found by clicking here.

The points table of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2011-2013 can be found by clicking here.

About the Pepsi ICC World Cricket League Championship

The WCL Championship features the top eight Associate and Affiliate teams - Afghanistan, Canada, Ireland, Kenya, Namibia, Netherlands, Scotland and the UAE - and is a seven-round competition that provides direct qualification opportunities to the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, to be held in Australia and New Zealand.

The top two teams from the WCL Championship will automatically join the ICC's 10 Full Members at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, while the bottom six teams will receive a second opportunity to advance to the ICC's flagship global event by competing in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier in early 2014. This 10-team event will determine the final two qualifiers for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

The six teams will be joined by the top two teams from WCL Division 3, to be held in Bermuda from 28 April to 5 May, and Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea, who finished third and fourth at WCL Division 2 in 2011.

The Intercontinental Cup

The ICC Intercontinental Cup is the ICC's premier first-class tournament, and gives the top eight Associate and Affiliate teams, who do not play Test cricket, the chance to experience the longer form of the game.

Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in three events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider, Canada in the 2006-07 event, and Namibia in the 2007-08 event. In 2009-10, Afghanistan won the competition and Scotland finished second on the points table.

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