Twice the Netherlands looked for a time like taking control of their second Super League ODI in Amstelveen on Thursday, and twice the West Indies asserted the natural order of things, eventually completing a five-wicket victory with 27 deliveries to spare.
The West Indies went into the match unchanged, but for the Dutch young leg-spinner Shariz Ahmad came in for paceman Viv Kingma, who was nursing a side strain, and most probably for the first time in the KNCB’s 131-year international history the Netherlands fielded a side with three 19-year-olds.
One of them again demonstrated his class as soon as the game got under way, Pieter Seelaar having won the toss and elected to bat, Vikram Singh following up his pulsating knock on Tuesday with another confident contribution against the West Indians’ pace attack.
The first 20 overs of the match, indeed, belonged to Singh and Max O’Dowd, who this time put together a stand of 101 before Singh, who had struck five fours and had again hammered Anderson Phillip into the trees behind long leg, rather tamely hit a return catch to Hayden Walsh Jr and departed for 46.
The Dutch cause was helped by some poor West Indian catching: both openers were dropped in Kyle Mayers’ third over before the score had reached 20, and Mayers himself dropped O’Dowd with the total on 67.
O’Dowd, batting with much greater freedom than he had on Tuesday, reached his fifty, his 12th for the Netherlands and his fourth in ODIs, but then he was bowled on 51 by an Akeal Hosein delivery which kept distinctly low.
That made it 115 for two, and gradually the Dutch surrendered the initiative Singh and O’Dowd had established, as Hosein removed Bas de Leede, Teja Nidamanuru and Pieter Seelaar for a total of nine runs between them, Nkrumah Bonner, introduced as a third spinner, chipping in with the wicket of Musa Ahmad for 7.
Promoted to three, Scott Edwards had to weather a hostile welcome from Alzarri Joseph, but he held firm, although the tourists’ bowlers were able virtually to cut out the boundaries: the only four added to the total after Singh’s dismissal came in the 31st over, when Edwards swept Walsh to the fine leg boundary.
Hosein finished with four for 39 from his ten overs and Walsh with one for 40, and although Edwards had brought up his fifth ODI half-century, from 66 deliveries, when the pace bowlers returned with seven overs left the total was only 189 for six.
Good running between Edwards and Logan van Beek took the score past 200, but then a flurry of wickets brought the innings to a close, Edwards the last out for 68 with the total on a disappointing 214.
The last nine wickets had fallen for 113 runs, with Edwards contributing 68 of them, again underlining the limitations of this Dutch batting line-up.
The West Indian pace trio of Mayers, Joseph and Phillip had bowled with greater discipline than they had managed on Tuesday, but it was the spinners who had again done most of the damage.
Ryan Klein shared the new ball with Logan van Beek, and they were able to create some genuine pressure early on, Van Beek in particular causing problems until Shamarh Brooks edged him to Seelaar at slip, where the Dutch captain took a good, sharp catch.
De Leede replaced Klein and struck a double blow, bowling Shai Hope with a delivery which cut back viciously and then trapping Bonner in front four overs later to reduce the visitors to 48 for three.
It was the dream start the Dutch had needed, and with Aryan Dutt replacing Van Beek almost as soon as Nicholas Pooran came to the crease, the off-spinner again got his man, who smacked him for six but then tried a repeat dose three deliveries later and edged the ball into his stumps.
61 for four, and suddenly it seemed that the Netherlands might pull off an epic victory.
But Brandon King, who had batted so well in company with Hope on Tuesday, was now joined by Mayers, and they added 36 in seven overs of spin from Dutt and Seelaar.
That brought young Shariz into the attack, and his first international delivery almost yielded a wicket as a googly caught the edge of Mayers’ bat and just eluded Edwards behind the stumps.
The second, however, did just that: another wrong’un had Mayers cutting, and this time the ball went straight into the keeper’s gloves: 99 for five, and the West Indies appeared to be in real trouble.
Keacy Carty, the young man from Sint Maarten, now came to the crease for the first time, and he and King set about turning the game back the tourists’ way.
With the total on 130 came the moment which may well have been decisive: Carty came looking for an impossible single as King pushed to mid-on, and had Singh’s throw at short range hit the stumps he would certainly have been well out of his ground.
But he survived, and from that point on the West Indians gradually took control, King reaching another half-century and going on to make an unbeaten, 90-ball 91 and Carty contributing a solid 43, including the winning six, hammered over midwicket off Dutt.
The pair had added 118 in their unbroken sixth-wicket stand, and although the Dutch had worked hard in the field the gap in experience and skill was again all too evident.
Van Beek, the most economical of the bowlers with one for 39 from his ten overs, was the most impressive, but De Leede and Klein backed him up well, and Shariz had an unforgettable international debut, finishing with one for 28.
All things considered, it was another brave performance of which the players and their coaches can be proud, and much will doubtless have been learned. It is, however, a very tough stage on which to have to learn, and there are lessons here not only for the players, but for the policy-makers whose decisions lie behind this unequal battle.
Pictures thanks to Sander Tholen.
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