Singh century and Barresi near-miss set up Dutch victory

A maiden ODI century for Vikramjit Singh boosted Netherlands' Net Run Rate to keep their hopes of reaching the World Cup alive

You could have got very good odds indeed before the start of the Qualifier on the Netherlands still being in contention for one of the two available World Cup places with just four Super Six matches left to play, but Monday’s victory over a determined Oman yielded exactly that outcome.

There have been few easy games in this tournament, and this was certainly not one of them, as the Omanis for quite a while made a very good fist of chasing an imposing target of 364 after another outstanding batting display from the Dutch.

Stand-in captain Aaqib Ilyas gave his side an initial advantage by winning the toss and putting the Netherlands in, cold, damp, overcast conditions suggesting that life might be difficult for the batters, and for the first few overs Bilal Khan and Kaleemullah did indeed impose themselves on Vikram Singh and Max O’Dowd.

But after just 23 deliveries the rain returned and the players were off the field for 50 minutes, leading to a two-over reduction.

Soon after the resumption Singh went onto the attack against Kaleemullah, hitting three boundaries in an over, and that set the tone for what followed.

O’Dowd, too, began punishing anything even slightly misdirected, and although Bilal continued an outstanding spell, at the other end the runs were flowing freely.

There was a new steeliness about the 20-year-old Singh, and after he brought up his fifth ODI fifty he remained focused, set on reaching a century for the first time.

He lost O’Dowd for 35 with the total on 117, the right-hander getting well outside off as he attempted to sweep Ayaan Khan and losing his leg stump, and as Singh proceeded imperturbably towards three figures Wesley Barresi started cautiously at the other end.

The pair’s running between the wickets was, however, outstanding, and the Omani fielders started to crack under the pressure, while the total was boosted by a succession of wides.

Singh reached his hundred, from 102 deliveries with ten fours and two sixes, and that was the cue for Barresi to go onto the attack as well, an onslaught which began in earnest once Singh had departed, holing out to Fayyaz Butt at long on of Mohammad Nadeem when he had made 110.

Scott Edwards, promoting himself to four in the quest for quick runs, did not stay long before becoming Nadeem’s second victim, but with the Dutch total now on 227 for three with eleven overs left, Barresi and Bas de Leede were able to go into T20 mode.

They put on 55 in four and a half overs, De Leede contributing a 19-ball 39, and when he fell, trying to plant Bilal over cow corner, the attack was taken up by Saqib Zulfiqar, who responded with a succession of boundaries of his own.

Barresi, meanwhile, was plundering the attack relentlessly, and his second ODI century seemed a formality until, on 97, he tried to ramp a head-high delivery from Bilal and could only top-edge it through to keeper Suraj Kumar; he had faced just 65 balls and hit ten fours and three sixes.

By this time, though, the total had reached 339, and with two overs left Zulfiqar (who contributed a 17-ball 33), Logan van Beek and Teja Nidamanuru were able to add a further 23 runs.

Bilal was the pick of the Omani bowlers with three for 75, although despite Singh’s rough treatment of him after the rain break, Kaleemullah was the most economical with just 52 coming from his ten overs.

One run was added to the target by the DLS calculation, and Kashyap Prajapati and Jatinder Singh began the chase as if 364 was a mere bagatelle, aided by some rather wild bowling from Van Beek.

In the seventh over, though, some smart fielding from Saqib in the covers and a dramatic flying dive from Edwards which demolished the stumps saw Jatinder run out, and when Aaqib Ilyas could only fend a lifting delivery from the excellent Ryan Klein to Singh at slip, the Omanis appeared to be in trouble.

It would have been worse had two difficult chances from Ayaan Khan not been put down as he went after the bowlers, although there was further success for the Dutch when Aryan Dutt came into the attack and immediately removed Prajapati, well caught by Klein at wide long on for 25.

Mohammad Nadeem joined Ayaan, making 16 before he was bowled sweeping by Dutt, who was again maintaining outstanding control; Oman were now 102 for four, and despite a brisk scoring rate the Dutch seemed to be well on top.

But Shoaib Khan was Ayaan’s new partner, and they set about rebuilding the innings, adding 112 for the fifth wicket in less than 18 overs, scoring freely as Edwards rotated his bowlers in search of the breakthrough.

So successful was their partnership, indeed, that they kept pace with, and at one point even surpassed the Dutch scoring-rate; the Netherlands, however, had added 127 in their last ten overs, and that remained a huge bulwark for the Omanis to conquer.

It became even greater when Dutt returned to beat Shoaib, who was well stumped by Edwards for 46, and greater still when Sandeep Goud was trapped in front by Klein.

Ayaan had by now reached 99, and before Klein’s over was completed he, too, reached a maiden ODI hundred, from 84 deliveries with eleven fours and two sixes.

With the asking rate now in excess of 15 an over and six wickets down, the question had become whether the Netherlands would win by enough for their net run rate to overtake Scotland’s, but the light was beginning to fade and the game was approaching a kind of stalemate.

With four overs remaining there was a prolonged discussion, followed by a general shaking of hands, and a consultation of the DLS table confirmed that the Dutch had won by 74 runs, Ayaan remaining not out on 105.

Dutt finished with three for 31 and Klein with two for 34, and they, along with De Leede’s none for 47 from nine overs, had proved the decisive factors in restricting the Omanis to 246 for six.

It was enough to bring the Dutch level with Scotland on points, although not to enable them to overtake their old rivals on NRR; much now depends on the outcome of their encounter on Thursday, although in between, of course, the Scots have to face Zimbabwe.

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