The Dutch could thank a spirited opening stand between Max O’Dowd and Steph Myburgh and a disciplined performance in the field for their comfortable 52-run victory over Papua New Guinea in the opening match of their T20 World Cup Qualifier B campaign on Monday, but loss of momentum in the middle overs of their innings once again gave cause for concern.
O’Dowd and Myburgh put on 78 at better than ten an over after Scott Edwards had won the toss and elected to bat, but after Myburgh was bowled by Riley Hekure for a 24-ball 39 and O’Dowd followed in the following over, bowled by Charles Amini for 32, the PNG bowlers were able to regain a measure of control.
The promotion of Edwards to three, occasioned perhaps by the omission of Vikram Singh, could not prevent this, and with Amini contributing a fine four-over spell of leg spin for figures of two for 29 only 32 runs came between the 11th and 16th overs for the loss of Edwards, Tom Cooper, Teja Nidamanuru and Tim Pringle.
There was just one boundary in those six overs, although Bas de Leede kept the scoreboard ticking over at around a run a ball until he and Logan van Beek began the final onslaught, Van Beek succeeding in hitting Damien Ravi for six in the penultimate over and De Leede then cracking a boundary before falling next ball for an invaluable 33.
Some enterprising running enabled Van Beek and Fred Klaassen to get the total up to 163 for seven, but even that was a little disappointing after the start the side had been given by the openers.
It soon became clear, however, that the four-man Dutch pace attack of Klaassen, Van Beek, De Leede and Paul van Meekeren was generally too sharp and too accurate for PNG’s batting, only 29 runs coming from the initial powerplay for the loss of Assad Vala and Lega Siaka.
Amini and Sese Bau added 52 for the third wicket, but it took them seven and a half overs, and by the time Amini holed out to Van Beek off Van Meekeren’s bowling, departing for 21, the asking rate was north of ten an over.
Bau continued the resistance, but the Dutch bowlers were giving little away, and when young leg-spinner Shariz Ahmad conceded just a single run from the 13th over the balance had decisively shifted towards his side.
Norman Vanua gloved a catch to keeper Edwards off the final ball of the 16th, bowled by Van Meekeren, and now Klaassen returned to dismiss Bau for a well-made 35 off the following delivery, bowling Hekure with the next to reduce PNG to 94 for seven.
Hila Vare managed to get the total into three figures, but the innings ended on 111, Van Beek finishing with three for 17, De Leede with two for 13, Klaassen two for 18 and Van Meekeren two for 22.
It had been a solid performance, although there are legitimate questions about the most effective composition of the Dutch middle order.
Across Bulawayo at the Athletic Club, meanwhile, there was a low-scoring thriller between Hong Kong and Uganda, the latter restricting their opponents to a disappointing 87 for nine and then squeezing home by two wickets with three deliveries to spare as Hong Kong made them fight for every run.
Only Kinchit Shah’s 46-ball 37 stood between Hong Kong and complete disaster after Nizakat Khan had won the toss and elected to bat, left-arm seamer Dinesh Nakrani claiming four for 12 in his four overs.
But then Aizaz Khan took three for 19 to help reduce the Ugandans to 26 for four inside five overs, and it took a solid, unbeaten 28 from Riazat Ali Shah, supported by a defiant little knock from 41-year-old veteran Frank Nsubuga, to enable their side to escape from looming defeat at 63 for seven.
Nsubuga fell off the first ball of the final over, but now only three more runs were needed, and Riazat and Cosmas Kyewuta were able to see Uganda home.
Hong Kong will face the Netherlands on Tuesday afternoon, while Uganda will take on Papua New Guinea.
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