The Netherlands Women produced a greatly improved performance in the final match of their ODI series against Ireland in Voorburg on Friday, although the visitors again proved much too strong in the end and won by eight wickets to complete a three-nil sweep of the series.
After Babette de Leede won the toss and elected to bat it looked for a time as if there could be a repeat of Monday’s first encounter, when the Dutch were dismissed for 84, as four wickets fell for 29 runs inside the initial powerplay.
Taking the new ball, Orla Prendergast bowled Annemijn van Beuge and Juliët Post with successive deliveries, and when Rachel Delaney had Robine Rijke stumped by Mary Waldron in the following over the home side were on 8 for three.
But De Leede was still there, and after she and Iris Zwilling had put on 21 for the fourth wicket, the Dutch skipper was joined by debutant Robyn van Oosterom, who quickly showed that she had both the temperament and the skills to succeed at this level.
She and De Leede added 42 before she was bowled by Laura Delany for 14 and De Leede, who had reached 30 by this point, was joined at the crease by Frédérique Overdijk.
De Leede and Overdijk shared the best partnership of the innings – the Netherlands’ highest of the week and a Dutch ODI record for the sixth wicket– with a stand of 75 in 17 overs, raising the possibility that the side might pass 200 for the first time since 2010.
It was, however, not to be as, having made 76 from 97 deliveries, De Leede drove Cara Murray into the hands of Shauna Kavanagh at cover.
That left Overdijk to manage the tail, and together they were able to add a further 39 runs, Overdijk falling just short of a maiden ODI half-century when she ran out of partners, ending on an unbeaten 47 as the innings closed on 185.
Laura Delany was the most successful of Ireland’s bowlers with three for 26, while Leah Paul took two for 33 and Prendergast, who did not return after her initial breakthrough, had two for 4 from two overs.
The Dutch needed early wickets, but Paul and Gaby Lewis took the total to 73 in 19 overs before Caroline de Lange bowled Paul for 27.
Amy Hunter’s arrival at the crease brought an immediate increase in the tempo, 50 coming from the next six overs and Lewis bringing up her half-century from 62 deliveries.
The Dutch side had so far produced a much better effort in the field, eliminating most of the errors which had cost them so dearly on Wednesday, but they now began to wilt a little under the pressure as Lewis and Hunter added 107 for the second wicket in just 91 balls.
With 16 needed for victory and Lewis on 92 not out it seemed entirely possible that she might post her first ODI century, but with Hunter, helped by some poor Dutch fielding, taking nine from the next overonly six were needed for an Irish victory when Overdijk claimed a thoroughly-deserved wicket, trapping Lewis in front without addition to her score.
It had been a fine innings which had brought Ireland to the brink of the win, but after Hunter had reached a 48-ball half-century it was left to Delany to hit the winning boundary and complete a green sweep of the series.
The Dutch attack, the seamers Zwilling and Overdijk and the spinners De Lange and Lynch in particular, had bowled with commendable discipline against a strong Irish top order, and it was generally evident that the side had learned a great deal from a tough return to ODI cricket.
It is crucial for the future of the Dutch women’s game that the momentum gained here is not lost, and that a young and promising squad continues to be tested at this level.
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