It was always going to be an uphill battle, especially with spearhead Logan van Beek on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, and in truth the best that can be said of the Dutch defeat by 99 runs at the hands of New Zealand is that they stayed in the contest for longer and with greater purpose than defending champions England had managed to do.
The Netherlands’ most effective period probably came between the 41st and 45th overs of the New Zealand innings, when they fought back from 238 for three to 254 for six, giving themselves an outside chance of keeping their opponents to a total in the region of 280, but two costly overs of pace at the death yielded 38 runs, and they found themselves chasing a daunting 322 for seven.
On a pitch which was never easy for batting Aryan Dutt and Ryan Klein – the latter in for Van Beek – gave Scott Edwards a dream start with three straight maiden overs after he had again elected to bowl first, but then Devon Conway and Will Young began hitting a succession of boundaries, and 63 runs came from the initial powerplay.
Roelof van der Merwe had the dangerous Conway smartly caught by Bas de Leede at midwicket for 32, but Rachin Ravindra now joined Young in a 77-run partnership for the second wicket, made in just 14 overs.
The momentum was firmly with New Zealand, and when Paul van Meekeren removed Young for 70 it brought in Daryl Mitchell to continue the onslaught.
Klein had been expensive with the new ball, but he was much more effective when he returned, and might well have had both batters in one action-packed over, Ravindra surviving a very marginal review for leg-before and Mitchell dropped by debutant Sybrand Engelbrecht at short midwicket three balls later.
Ravindra celebrated his escape by going to his half-century off the first ball of Van der Merwe’s next, but then immediately fell to a fine legside catch by Edwards off the following delivery, his 51 coming at exactly a run a ball.
Mitchell and Latham proceeded to add 53 in eight overs, but then Van Meekeren removed Mitchell, bowled by an off-cutter for 48, De Leede had Glenn Phillips caught behind in the next over, and when Van der Merwe caught Mark Chapman off Dutt three wickets had fallen in the space of 30 deliveries.
It was an impressive fightback, but Latham was still there, joined now by Mitchell Santner for the last five overs.
Dutt continued to bowl with great control, eventually getting Latham stumped for a 46-ball 53, but 17 off a Van Meekeren over and then 21 from De Leede’s last saw New Zealand well past 300.
That final over apart De Leede had again bowled well, conceding just 10 runs in four overs before that, and Dutt was outstanding throughout.
But the Dutch had missed Van Beek’s incisiveness, although Klein came back well from his initial hammering and was the only bowler to concede less than six an over.
The psychological difference between 280 and 322 is enormous, even without the challenge of facing Trent Boult and Matt Henry, who were able to prevent Vikram Singh and Max O’Dowd from getting the Netherlands’ reply off to a flyer.
It was the spinners, however, who proved a real handful in the conditions, Santner trapping O’Dowd in front in his second over and Ravindra then breaking a promising little partnership between De Leede and Colin Ackermann when the former fell to a stunning effort by Boult on the long off boundary: tossing the ball up as his momentum carried him over the rope, the fielder stepped back in time to complete the catch.
Teja Nidamanuru and Ackermann shared a half-century stand, but the asking rate had crept past eight an over when a mix-up over a possible second run saw the former run out for 21.
Edwards brought his characteristic energy out to the middle as Ackermann brought up a third ODI half-century, but as the scoreboard pressure continued to mount Santner now took a decisive hand, removing first Ackermann, caught at short third man for 69 as he attempted a reverse sweep, then Edwards with a return catch soon after the Dutch captain had smacked him for six, and then Van der Merwe in a replay of the Ackermann dismissal.
There was time for Sybrand Engelbrecht to play a promising knock of 29 which suggested that he could have much to offer in the Dutch middle order, but Santner accounted for Klein to finish with five for 59 and Henry returned to dismiss Engelbrecht and Dutt, ending the innings on 223.
The gap between the sides was probably more evident here than it had been against Pakistan, when the Dutch had been on top for significant periods, but New Zealand are genuine contenders for the Cup itself.
Coach Ryan Cook and Edwards himself knew from the outset that there would be no easy games, and they have a few days now to regroup before they take on South Africa in Dharamsala.
You’re reading Emerging Cricket — brought to you by a passionate group of volunteers with a vision for cricket to be a truly global sport, and a mission to inspire passion to grow the game.