By Anand Vasu in Chittagong
The Netherlands goes down again but not before putting up another competent display against a top team
The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong has played generous host to a fair share of nailbiters, but New Zealand helped soothe the nerves with a typically organised batting display.
Brendon McCullum was at the forefront of the chase, helping himself to 65 runs, but Kane Williamson (29) and Ross Taylor played their parts along the way. Williamson did not try anything fancy at the top of the order, especially after Martin Guptill fell early, taking the aerial route infrequently, preferring instead to move around in his crease and hit the ball through the field. With the score on 56 in the ninth over, Williamson tried to steer Logan van Beek past the keeper, feathering an edge.
Taylor, not in the mood to wait around, attacked his favourite leg-side, clubbing van Beek through square-leg and then lifting Timm van der Gugten way over mid-wicket, but fell repeating the shot.
McCullum, sensing that the Netherlands might be looking for an opportunity to get back into the game, went on the offensive. When he got to 20 with a single, McCullum became the first batsman to rack up 2000 runs in T20 Internationals, but it was his big hitting that got the crowd going. McCullum swung sixes off Mudassar Bukhari, Ahsan Malik and van der Gugten, and in an attempt to charge past the finish line, fell with 18 still needed. McCullum (65) holed out to deep cover, and it was left to Corey Anderson (20 not out) and Jimmy Neesham to apply the finishing touches, which they duly did.
As promised, the Netherlands kept the faith, not just in trying to knock over a top team, but with its own squad, making no changes for the match against New Zealand. Put in to bat, the Netherlands openers were determined to build a base for their team, and were cautious against the new balls.
Stephan Myburgh, who has made a name for himself by attacking the bowlers mercilessly at the top of the order, curbed his natural instincts, and Michael Swart followed suit.
Myburgh, who managed one hit to the ropes and one over, took as many as 23 balls for his 16, before being smartly caught by Guptill when he did not get hold of a pull shot as well as he would have liked. Netherlands ended the Power Play at 37 for 1, and it was over to Peter Borren to take the innings forward.
Borren also allowed himself a bit of a bedding-down period, and did not lose his rhythm when Wesley Barresi tickled one to the keeper. Swart, who had played a delicious whip through mid-wicket and an effective pull to the square-leg fence, decided that the time had come to up the scoring rate, and made a serious miscalculation. Jumping down the track to Nathan McCullum, Swart (26) missed and was comfortably stumped.
Tom Cooper’s arrival at the crease allowed Borren to kick on, and Williamson bore the brunt, being smacked for a six over long-on, dabbed past the keeper and slogged over the leg-side in a 17-run 15th over.
Borren was not averse to taking on the quicker bowlers either, planting his foot towards off stump and whipping Kyle Mills over square-leg with some cheek. The Cooper-Borren partnership had grown to 60, and Borren (49) was on the way to well-deserved half-century when he fell. A full delivery with a bit of width on it from Kyle Mills proved too tempting, but the forcing shot only found Williamson at point.
Cooper then turned aggressor, giving the innings the momentum it needed in the final overs. Without quite attempting anything over the top, Cooper backed himself to beat the field, and did so regularly enough to end on an unbeaten 23-ball 40, taking the Netherlands to 151 for 4 from 20 overs. New Zealand, usually razor sharp on the field, endured one of its more ragged days, with catches going down and run outs being missed, the Mirpur malaise having well and truly taken root in Chittagong. On the day, it did not prove too costly.