After the adrenaline high of dumping both Zimbabwe and Ireland out of the ICC World Twenty20 2014 in one of the most emphatic batting displays seen in this version of the game, the Netherlands crashed and burned to 39 all out on Monday (March 24) against a Sri Lankan team that looks destined to make the final four.
This was the lowest total in T20I history, comfortably less than the 56 that Kenya was bowled out for against Afghanistan in Sharjah in September last year. The Netherlands score was also the second lowest in all competitive T20 cricket, marginally bettering the 30 that Tripura was bowled out for against Jharkhand in 2009 in the Indian domestic competition.
Timm van der Gugten gave Sri Lanka a moment of panic when he struck Kusal Perera flush on the thumb first ball, and the batsman was in genuine pain before being attended to by the physio. But Kusal did not give it away, responding with a pleasing punch through midwicket for four. And, with a comfortable little score there for the taking, Kusal (14) chipped a catch to mid-on, giving the Netherlands something to celebrate.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (12*) calmed his nerves with a back-foot punch through cover and in the company of Mahela Jayawardena (11*) took Sri Lanka home with 15 overs to spare. This ensured that Sri Lanka also secured the biggest victory in T20Is in terms of balls to spare.
When Dinesh Chandimal won the toss and put the Netherlands in, even he would not have believed that the innings would be over in such a tearing hurry. The only respite for the Netherlands, in an innings that lasted only an hour, was an 11-minute stoppage when a voltage fluctuation caused individual bulbs in each of the four towers to fail.
But, before the lighting could come to its temporary rescue, the Netherlands had lost Stephan Myburgh, caught at third man off Nuwan Kulasekara for a duck, and Michael Swart and Wesley Barresi off consecutive Angelo Mathews deliveries. At this point, the lights went out, and when play resumed, Mathews failed to get the hat-trick, but this did not mean relief for the Netherlands.
Peter Borren became the third batsman to be dismissed for a duck, having survived seven balls without scoring, trapped in front by Mathews. Tom Cooper squeezed in a couple of boundaries to get to 16, the only double-digit score of the innings, as Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis waded into the Dutch.
Tom Cooper failed to read the direction of spin from Mendis, and was trapped in front, a borderline call as the ball may have been slipping down leg, but that was the only contentious call of the innings.
Logan van Beek came up against a yorker of the kind he had never faced before, a Malinga slower one tailing in late to beat bat and hit the base of middle stump. Three balls later, Mudassar Bukhari got the speedy version of the same ball, and a ricochet off pad set off the LED lights in the stumps and bails.
Peter Seelar prodded Mendis to slip and Ahsan Malik was palpably adjacent as the mystery spinner ended with 3 for 12 from 2.3 overs. Malinga had 2 for 5 from 2 overs, Mathews the semi-normal returns of 3 for 16 from 4 overs, leaving Kulasekara with the mythical figures of 2-2-0-1.