Having emphasised their superiority with the ball by dismissing the Netherlands for 84 on Monday, Ireland’s Women followed this up with a dominant performance with the bat in Amstelveen on Wednesday, posting 337 for eight and going on to win by 210 runs.
It was Ireland’s highest total in a Women’s ODI, surpassing their 312 for three against Zimbabwe in Harare in October, and the highest recorded against the Dutch women, beating New Zealand’s 335 for four, also in Amstelveen, in 2002.
The innings was also notable for a stand of 236 for the third wicket between Leah Paul and Laura Delany, Ireland’s best in Women’s ODIs for any wicket and the second-highest third-wicket partnership recorded for any country in Women’s ODIs, surpassed only by Karen Rolton and Lisa Sthalekar’s 244 for Australia against Ireland in Dublin in 2005.
The pair came together in the 14th over with the total on 68 for two, Frédérique Overdijk having secured the initial breakthrough by trapping Gaby Lewis in front for 15 and Silver Siegers getting Amy Hunter leg-before for 22 with her first delivery of the innings.
It was looking as if Dutch skipper Babette de Leede’s decision to bowl might succeed, but no further wicket would fall for 33 overs as, helped by a Dutch performance in the field which, to put it kindly, was well below international standard, Paul and Delany proceeded to pile on the runs.
Paul took 78 deliveries to reach her half-century but needed only a further 35 to post her maiden international hundred, while Delany needed just 58 balls for her fifty and 93 for her first century in ODIs.
The breakthrough eventually came in the unluckiest possible way: when Iris Zwilling returned to the attack Paul drove her first delivery back hard and straight, Zwilling got a hand on it, deflecting it into the stumps, and Delany, backing up, had no chance of getting back.
She had made 109 from 102 deliveries with nine boundaries.
If the gods found that unjust they evened the balance in the next over, bowled by Overdijk, when Paul, coming back for the second in what would have been a succession of five twos by Orla Prendergast, was beaten by a direct hit from the long off boundary by Annemijn van Beuge and departed for a 138-ball 137, which included 15 fours.
Amongst so much poor fielding it was a moment of brilliance, and it triggered a hectic final two overs in which Ireland lost four further wickets for the addition of 18 runs: Shauna Kavanagh succumbed to her second golden duck of the week, again caught behind but this time off Zwilling, who went on to bowl Prendergast later in the same over; Rachel Delaney was stumped by De Leede off Overdijk, and Mary Waldron was run out going for a second run off the final ball of the innings.
Zwilling and Overdijk had stuck to their task well and thoroughly deserved their figures of two for 59 and two for 57 respectively, while Silver Siegers was the most economical of the Dutch bowlers with one for 51 from her ten overs.
Chasing such a massive total the best the Dutch could realistically hope for was to occupy the crease for as long as possible and to post a respectable total, but De Leede fell in the first over, hitting Georgina Dempsey over midwicket for six and then edging the next delivery to slip, where Cara Murray dived to her right to take an outstanding catch.
Thereafter the home side made reasonable progress, Van Beuge (26), Juliët Post (15), Robine Rijke (21), Jolien van Vliet (20) and Zwilling (17) all getting a start as the total reached 114 for four.
But the Irish bowlers, backed up by generally excellent fielding, cut out the boundaries and maintained the pressure well, and once Van Vliet had fallen to a superb run-out by keeper Waldron, who ran 30 metres to fine leg to gather the ball and throw down the stumps, another batting collapse ensued, the last six wickets falling for just 13 runs as the Dutch were all out for 127.
Murray did most of the damage, her ten overs of leg spin giving her figures of five for 39 – her best haul for Ireland – and including the wickets of Post, Rijke, Zwilling and Overdijk.
These two matches have underlined the huge gap between a thoroughly professional Irish side and a comparatively young and inexperienced Dutch team, who will need to pick themselves up for the final match of the series at Westvliet in Voorburg on Friday.
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