Dutch flunk a test they could have passed – T20 World Cup

Netherlands' Paul van Meekeren (R) reacts after his dismissal during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match between Bangladesh and Netherlands at Bellerive Oval in Hobart on October 24, 2022. - -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)

The Dutch have made something of a speciality recently of competing valiantly with Full member opponents before going down to a narrow defeat; but few have been as frustrating as Monday’s 9-run loss to Bangladesh at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval.

A side which consistently had the better of both opening powerplays in their preliminary round matches in Geelong last week now found themselves struggling six overs into both innings, and although the bowlers staged an impressive fightback and Colin Ackermann chose this moment to play his finest knock for his adopted country, in the end they had left too great a task.

Fred Klaassen and Bas de Leede appeared to have mislaid their radar after Scott Edwards won the toss and elected to field, bowling five wides between them and conceding half a dozen boundaries as they battled with length and line in a stiff Hobart breeze.

Ackermann and Paul van Meekeren, the latter again generating 140-plus pace and creating steep bounce, conceded just seven in two overs, but still Najmul Hossain Shanto and Soumya Sarkar reached 43 after five before Soumya mistimed a pull off Van Meekeren and was caught by De Leede at mid-off for 14.

That triggered a dramatic slump as the Dutch bowlers clawed their way back into the game, four more wickets falling in the space of five overs for the addition of 33 runs: Tim Pringle had Shanto caught by Logan van Beek at deep midwicket for 25, Van Beek himself removed Litton Das, and then Shariz Ahmad, brought into the side to replace the injured Roelof van der Merwe, dismissed Shakib Al Hasan, brilliantly caught by De Leede on the square leg boundary.

A brief pause for rain followed, but then Van Meekeren bowled Yasir Ali with an outstanding yorker, and suddenly advantage seemed to lie with the Netherlands.

Afif Hossain and Nurul Hasan, however, steadily rebuilt the innings with a sixth-wicket stand of 44, and although De Leede returned to remove both in the same over, Afif having contributed a crucial 27-ball 38, some final fireworks from Mosaddek Hossain got the total up to 144 for eight.

Van Meekeren was again the pick of the bowlers with two for 21 from his four overs, Tim Pringle continued to exercise exemplary control with one for 10 from two, and Logan van Beek did well on his return to the side with one for 12 from three.

To reach 145 Scott Edwards’s side needed a decent start, but what followed was a nightmare.

Vikram Singh fell to the very first ball from Taskin Ahmed, edging him to slip where Yasir Ali snaffled a low catch which was ruled by TV umpire Michael Gough to have been cleanly taken, and then De Leede felt for the second outside off and was caught by keeper Nurul Hassan.

Two wickets for no run was bad enough, but worse was to follow, with first Max O’Dowd run out by a return from Afif as he looked for a second run, and then Tom Cooper was likewise short and departed without facing a ball as he and Ackermann attempted a third run after a fine save by Shanto on the cover boundary.

That made it 15 for four after just 22 deliveries, but the Dutch were saved from a truly humiliating defeat by Ackermann’s determination and a valuable contribution from Edwards, who helped him add 44 in just under eight overs.

Still, the chase was well behind the required rate and, with another rain break and more rain constantly threatening, the DLS par score as well, and even though Ackermann was now scoring more freely the cause appeared to be well and truly lost.

Shariz showed some commendable enterprise, but then Taskin returned to have him caught by Hasan Mahmud at backward point, and when Ackermann followed two balls later, having made a fighting 48-ball 62, including six fours and two sixes, 44 were still needed with only 19 deliveries remaining.

Bangladesh were on the brink of victory, but last man Van Meekeren, supported by Klaassen, refused to say die, striking first Taskin, and then Soumya and Mustafizur Rahman to the boundary, and 24 were needed from the last.

Six runs came from the first three balls, including a wide, and when Van Meekeren put Soumya over the square leg boundary for six, 12 were needed from the last two.

That the Dutch were still theoretically in the hunt after such a disastrous start was little short of a miracle, but only two came from the penultimate delivery, and then Van Meekeren, still hitting out, was caught by Das at midwicket for a gallant 14-ball 24.

Taskin’s career-best figures of four for 25 earned him the Player of the Match award, while Hasan Mahmud had two for 15 from four excellent overs and Mustafizur none for 20.

The 9-run margin no doubt flattered Edwards’s side, but had Ackermann received even a little more support from the rest of the top five it would have made all the difference, and with tougher tests ahead the Dutch will need to be firing on all cylinders, not least when (or considering the Sydney weather, if) they meet India at the SCG on Thursday.

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