Dutch have their moments, but Bangladesh too strong

Paul Van Meekeran's brilliant spell of four overs for 15 runs and two wickets isn't enough to keep Bangladesh at bay in Group D play.

There’s no doubt about it: Scott Edwards’s Dutch team are victims of their days of glory, of those moments when they have managed to put it all together and triumph against the odds to beat Full Member sides.

For make no mistake, the odds, whether one thinks of the depth of the talent pool, the ICC’s absurdly unequal funding distribution system, or the sheer weight of experience playing against the highest level of opposition, are firmly stacked against them.

So when, as they did against Bangladesh at St Vincent’s gloriously-situated but largely untested Arnos Vale ground on Wednesday, they fall short and see the match added to the growing list of games they could and perhaps should have won, we should spend more time celebrating those fitful moments when victory was on the cards than we do lamenting another opportunity let slip.

Nor, of course, should we forget the outstanding overall performance of a Bangladesh side, some of whom are old enough to recall when the Tigers, too, were battling against the odds and the wiseacres were shaking their heads every time they came close but lost to teams deemed their inevitable betters.

The architect of the Bangladeshis’ total of 159 for five was 37-year-old Shakib Al Hasan, veteran of nearly 450 internationals across all three formats, who came to the crease at 23 for two and whose 46-ball 64 not out was instrumental in his side’s adding 54 off a punishing last five overs.

Those early wickets was the result of some clever work by the Dutch back room, who rightly judged that off-spinner Aryan Dutt could be a trump card on the Arnos Vale pitch and brought him into the side to replace Teja Nidamanuru.

He removed skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto and keeper Liton Das inside the first four overs, but at the other end Tanzid Hasan was pumping boundaries, his 35 from 26 deliveries a cameo which ensured that the Tigers kept the scoreboard rattling along (or whatever digital scoreboards do these days).

Shanto’s reverse sweep went straight into the hands of Vikram Singh at slip, but the dismissal of Das was the result of a brilliant catch by Sybrand Engelbrecht at deep square leg.

Tanzid eventually fell to Paul van Meekeren, the Netherlands’ leading wicket-taker in T20Is, who also had Mahmudullah caught, again by Engelbrecht, though not before he and Shakib had added 41 for the fifth wicket from 32 deliveries, laying the foundation for that final onslaught.

Van Meekeren’s two wickets came at the cost of just 15 runs in his four overs, while Dutt was almost as economical with two for 17.

Much of the rest of the Dutch attack, though, had a day to forget, and 160 was certainly more than Edwards would have wanted his side to chase.

Michael Levitt and Singh shone briefly, Singh in particular hitting the ball cleanly as he struck Shakib for back-to-back sixes, but it was the stand of 42 between Engelbrecht and Edwards —  in this tournament partnerships of 40-plus stand out like good deeds in a naughty world – which raised Dutch hopes, and at 111 for three, with 49 required from 32 deliveries, the momentum seemed to be with the chasers.

But then leg-spinner Rishad Hossain took a hand, Engelbrecht beaten by turn and bounce and slicing the ball to Tanzim Hasan Sakib at cover point and departing for a 22-ball 33.

And when De Leede lasted just two deliveries and Edwards fell to Mustafizur Rahman a couple of overs later, the Netherlands had lost three wickets for 6 runs in ten deliveries, and Bangladesh were back in control.

Rishad returned to take the simplest of return catches from Logan van Beek to finish with three for 33, and in a diminuendo coda the Dutch lower order battled to add 17 from the last three overs, mainly thanks to a couple of splendid blows from Dutt.

The winning margin of 25 perhaps flattered the Netherlands a little on the day, although Dutt, Van Meekeren, Engelbrecht and Edwards enhanced their already considerable reputations and Levitt and Singh showed flashes of what they are capable of.

But that was not enough to pull off a repeat of the 50-over victory in Kolkata less than eight months ago, and now the Dutch need a miracle to see them into the Super Eight. A first-ever T20I win against Sri Lanka, though, would be a considerable compensation for this disappointment.

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