The Netherlands, as ICC World Cricket League champions, might have expected to get in to the Super Sixes ahead of the United Arab Emirates as the third team alongside Windies and Ireland, but it wasn’t to be.
They played their part, though, as did Nepal, Hong and Papua New Guinea, who all showed flashes of brilliance and have a lot to work with going ahead.
The teams will now play another set of matches before the 7th/8th and 9th/10th place play-offs, with one-day international status still at stake.
It was their batting that let the Netherlands down. Against Ireland in their opener, a rain-hit game, they folded for 149, and then managed only 176 against UAE. It got slightly better as they scored 216/8 against PNG – the only game they won – but again fell well short of their target by finishing on 167/6 against Windies in another rain-affected game.
Roelof van der Merwe did his bit, with the ball and in the field, but the fact that their highest scorer – Ryan ten Doeschate – aggregated only 127, and that there were only two fifties from their batsmen in the four games tell a story. The bowling was marginally better, but it just didn’t come together for the team.
It’s not often that a team win just one match in a competition like this but make such a difference with that result. Nepal beat Hong Kong by five wickets in their final game. The result didn’t do much for Nepal in terms of progress, but it knocked Hong Kong out and let Afghanistan go through to the Super Sixes.
Nepal were beaten comprehensively in their other three games and, like the Netherlands, it was a matter of not putting enough runs on the board. In Nepal’s case, the 264/8 they scored in their first game against Zimbabwe was the best batting effort, but it was still 116 behind the Zimbabwe score. They didn’t cross 200 after that.
Paras Khadka, their captain, stood out with his 189 runs, which included two half-centuries, while the contributions from the others were sporadic at best. Sandeep Lamichhane impressed at times as he picked up seven wickets but again, there were no solid bowling performances either as Nepal picked up just 16 wickets in the first three games before bowling out Hong Kong in the last match.
Bowled out for 91 by Scotland in their first game, Hong Kong came back strongly to beat Afghanistan in the next, by 30 runs (DLS method) as Anshuman Rath and Ehsan Khan rose to the occasion. That, however, remained their only moment of sunshine as they managed just 174 against Zimbabwe chasing 264 and were shot out for 153 by Nepal.
Rath was solid, aggregating 151 runs with two half-centuries, but there were no other contributors of substance, and Ehsan Khan ploughed a lone furrow with the ball with his haul of 11 wickets. The failure of experienced batsmen like Babar Hayat and Nizakat Khan would have come as disappointments for Hong Kong.
Papua New Guinea
They lost all their matches – the only team without a win – but showed excellent spirit and on at least two occasions, gave a scare to their big-ticket opponents.
One such occasion was against Ireland, when Tony Ura, the opener, played perhaps the innings of the tournament – 151 from 142 balls over almost three-and-a-half hours – to help PNG put up 235. It took a century from William Porterfield and a half-century from Ed Joyce to take Ireland to the target, that too with five balls left. The other time was against Windies when, after scoring 200, they reduced the opposition to 58/4. Windies coasted home courtesy Rovman Powell and Jason Holder, but PNG had made a statement for sure.