In the end the Ireland Wolves’ 94-run winning margin was a fair reflection of the difference between the teams in the first one-day game of the three-match series at Oak Hill, Co. Wicklow, but it scarcely did justice to the Dutch A side’s efforts through much of the Irish innings.
It was an unbroken last-wicket partnership of 89 between Shane Getkate and Peter Chase which turned the game the Wolves’ way: when Chase came to the crease they were on 187 for nine, and 200 seemed like a remote possibility.
But Getkate, on 20 at that stage and fortunate to be there after having been dropped when he was on one, hammered some indifferent Dutch bowling in the closing overs to finish on 74, made from just 40 deliveries with two fours and eight sixes, and the Wolves reached an improbable 276 for nine.
The Irish innings came in several movements: the quiet prelude of the first powerplay, in which Logan van Beek and Viv Kingma bowled with excellent control, restricting the score to 25 for one; an allegro second movement in which Harry Tector and George Dockrell put on 92 for the third wicket in an accomplished display which set up a total of 250 or so; a staccato third, six wickets falling for 70 runs as the Dutch attack, backed up by good fielding, fought their way back into the game; and then that fortissimo conclusion, in which Getkate and Chase plundered those 89 runs off just 56 deliveries.
Tector’s 89-ball 69 was a fine, composed innings, and he was well supported by Dockrell until he fell to a superb diving catch at cover by Van Beek, who had earlier snaffled two at point to remove the Wolves openers, Stephen Doheny and William Porterfield.
Philippe Boissevain was the most successful of the Dutch bowlers with three for 46, while Kingma and Bas de Leede, both of whom came in for some heavy punishment from Getkate after bowling well earlier, claimed two for 55 and two for 67 respectively.
The momentum was now firmly with the Wolves; it wasn’t just the scoreboard pressure of chasing 277, but the way in which the game had been turned which must have weighed heavily as they started their reply.
And the pressure told immediately. Steph Myburgh was run out off the final ball of the first over, falling to a direct hit by Curtis Campher in what must have been a desperately tight decision, and then Craig Young removed Vikram Singh and De Leede with successive deliveries to reduce the Dutch to 4 for three.
A yard faster and an order of magnitude more hostile than the Dutch had been, the four-man Irish pace attack of Graeme McCarter, Young, Campher and Chase maintained relentless pressure, and in the space of 13 overs the score slid further, to a perilous 40 for six.
Only debutant Musa Nadeem Ahmad, who has clearly spent the winter watching Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne and acquired some of their mannerisms, notably the extravagant cross-batted leave and the bat pointed at his partner when turning down a run, looked at all comfortable before he was undone by a beautifully set up Chase yorker.
Some credibility was now restored to the Dutch innings by Tobias Visée, who counterattacked by going after Chase, Dockrell and Young, hitting six fours and two sixes in his 33-ball 42.
It couldn’t last, though, and it was inevitably Getkate who removed him, caught by Young at third man.
Visée had contributed 37 to a seventh-wicket stand of 48, but Van Beek now started to look more aggressive as wickets fell at the other end.
He received good support from last man Kingma, and they added 56 for the final wicket before McCarter returned to get Kingma caught for 26, the innings closing on 182. Van Beek was left not out on 59, made from 76 deliveries with five fours and two sixes.
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