One man was the difference between the sides at Rotterdam’s Hazelarweg on Wednesday and, not for the first time, that man was Max O’Dowd.
While not looking completely comfortable on a surface where timing and placement were never straightforward, O’Dowd was able to do what other batters couldn’t, and he batted virtually throughout the Dutch innings, making half his side’s runs and falling only in the final over, run out trying to retain the strike as he sought to give the bowlers a decent total to bowl at.
Chasing the Netherlands’ 164 for eight Scotland seemed to be on course while Richie Berrington and George Munsey were batting together, their fourth-wicket stand of 67 the most lucrative of the match, but once Logan van Beek had returned to induce Munsey’s edge to keeper Scott Edwards scoreboard pressure began to tell and the Dutch held their nerve to claim a 14-run victory.
Considering the rain that had fallen in the course of the morning, it was a tribute to the ground staff that a 33-over match could be played at all, but scarcely surprising that the bowlers were largely in command.
Gavin Main was the pick of the Scots, generating life and fire from the Airport End and consistently beating the bat, and his two for 16 from seven overs was a fair reflection of his contribution.
He helped reduce the home side to 59 for five in the 16th over, and so effective were the Scottish bowlers that not a single boundary was struck between the fifth over and the 27th, when O’Dowd and Logan van Beek decided that the time had finally come to change gear.
Van Beek’s cameo of 24 from 21 deliveries, made in a stand of 42, was more important that the mere numbers suggest, and after his departure O’Dowd maintained the momentum in partnership with Aryan Dutt, eventually falling for 82 with only two balls left in the innings.
The total of 163, one felt, was probably twenty or so short of what Seelaar would have wanted, but it was still a good deal better than had seemed on the cards when Main, backed by the spin of Mark Watt and Hamza Tahir, was in control of proceedings.
The Dutch needed early wickets, and they came courtesy of two outstanding catches off Viv Kingma: first Pieter Seelaar, the solitary slip, flung himself to his right and clung on to an edge from Matthew Cross, and then, immediately after Kyle Coetzer had eased the bowler over the square leg boundary for six, Paul van Meekeren dived forward full length at extra cover to snaffle a leading edge.
Calum MacLeod departed soon afterwards, but then came the partnership between Berrington and Munsey which seemed to have given the Scots the platform they needed.
But Berrington fell for 41 soon after Munsey’s demise, a third wicket for Kingma, and with the asking rate now up above six an over and two new batters at the crease the Dutch turned the screw.
The rate was up to nine by the time Dylan Budge holed out at cow off Aryan Dutt, and two balls later Watt fell to that unluckiest of all forms of dismissal, run out backing up as Dutt deflected the ball into the stumps.
That made it 121 for seven with 26 deliveries remaining, and once again there were two new batters to deal with a steadily increasing asking rate.
The task was too great for Main and Sharif: although Van Beek’s and Van Meekeren’s next each conceded six, that left 28 needed off the last two, and when Van Beek again went for six 22 were required off the last.
The first five deliveries yielded seven, and off the final ball Sharif’s despairing heave was taken by Van Beek and it was all over.
The seamers on both sides had revelled in the conditions, but it was O’Dowd’s innings which set up the Dutch win, and he once again demonstrated what a key figure he has become in this Dutch side.