The Netherlands has blown hot and cold, but a sustained good performance will put it in the qualification race as well
With two wins in two games and a positive net run-rate of 0.641, Ireland is the leading candidate from Group B to qualify for the Super 10, but there is still a lot left to be done. A win against the Netherlands at the Sylhet Divisional Stadium on Friday (March 20) would ensure its qualification, while a defeat would open up the Group B points table.
If Zimbabwe beats United Arab Emirates and Ireland loses to the Netherlands then three teams will be tied on four points. Ireland’s run-rate will come handy in such a situation but it will not want to get into that tangle, having done all the hard work so far.
Ireland’s success has been built on the back of all-round contributions. Against Zimbabwe, George Dockrell and Andy McBrine picked up two wickets each before Paul Stirling’s 60 and his 80-run stand for the opening wicket with William Porterfield set it up for a thrilling last-ball win. In its next game, against UAE, the bowlers stifled the scoring options and then Ed Joyce and Porterfield completed the task with the bat.
More than the victory, what stood out was the manner in which Joyce addressed the media after the UAE match. Every word of his was measured and he gave the impression of a camp that knew the significance of a big win on the points table.
With Stirling having been declared fit after he was hit on his right elbow during its chase against UAE, Ireland will not have to tinker with the batting order. Things have gone as per plan so far, but Ireland wouldn’t mind Kevin O’Brien playing one of his signature innings and returning to form, giving the side the perfect entry into the Super 10 stage.
While Ireland has given the impression of a team well prepared for the big occasion, the Netherlands has blown hot and cold with its performances. Take out Tom Cooper and Stephan Myburgh, and none of the other batsmen have been able to adapt to the conditions in Sylhet.
In fact, Cooper, who joined the team after South Australia failed to qualify for the Sheffield Shield final, has given a lesson on how vital experience is at this level. With an unbeaten double-century against his name, Cooper’s credentials were never been in doubt but his unbeaten 72 against Zimbabwe was a singular advertisement of his temperament.
With the team pushed to the wall at 35 for 4, he constructed his innings in a meticulous manner. Having come out to bat in the fourth over, Cooper got going with two boundaries off Tendai Chatara, but then focussed on rotating the strike. He shifted gears in the second half of the innings to take his team to a respectable position.
Like Cooper, Ahsan Malik has been impressive with the ball. But, others have to rise to the occasion to compliment the duo for the Netherlands to spoil Ireland’s party.
Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Andy McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson (wk), Craig Young, Tim Murtagh, Niall O’Brien (wk), James Shannon.
The Netherlands: Peter Borren (capt), Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tom Cooper, Tom Heggelman, Ahsan Malik, Vivian Kingma, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart, Eric Szwarczynski, Logan van Beek, Timm van der Gugten.