A persistent Irish team performance was sufficient to see off a determined challenge by the Netherlands at Harare’s Sunrise Sports Club on Thursday and earn them a 29-run victory in their Group A match.
Having reached 139 for two after dismissing Ireland for 199, the Dutch seemed to be on course for a win, but the stumping of Sterre Kalis was the cue for another batting collapse which saw seven wickets fall for just 31 runs.
The Dutch attack had earlier done extremely well to bowl Ireland out after Leah Paul (17) and Gaby Lewis (46) had given them a good start with an opening stand of 61; the seamers bowled tidily but without menace, and their inability to claim early wickets must be a source of some concern to coach Shane Deitz.
It was again the spinners who achieved the first breakthroughs, the leg-breaks of Caroline de Lange removing both openers, and then, after Robine Rijke had run out Amy Hunter, off-spinner Eva Lynch claiming the wickets of Shauna Kavanagh and Orla Prendergast with successive deliveries.
That left Ireland on 85 for five, but Eimear Richardson now joined captain Laura Delany, and these two proceeded to double the score, adding 85 in 16 and a half overs to bring their side back into the match.
Then Silver Siegers took over, trapping first Richardson in front for 27 and then Delany for a superb run-a-ball 75, and going on to claim the final two wickets to finish with four for 24. De Lange had two for 60 and Lynch two for 31.
Needing exactly 200 to win, the Dutch again suffered the early loss of Juliët Post, but Babette de Leede and Kalis threatened to repeat their 141-run partnership against Sri Lanka, adding 59 for the second wicket.
It took them 17 overs, however, against an accurate Irish attack backed up by good fielding, and when Delany broke through, having De Leede caught behind for 34, the required rate was already beginning to rise.
Rijke joined Kalis, who was batting as if the weight of continents rested upon her shoulders, and the pair put on another 73 off 19 overs, Rijke batting a good deal more positively than her partner.
Kalis appeared to find the leg-spin of Celeste Raack particularly difficult, and the first time she came down the wicket she was unable to get to the pitch, was beaten by the turn, and was comfortably stumped by Mary Waldron.
The asking rate had now crept up towards six an over, and the Dutch cause was further undermined by a series of three run-outs as the pressure told on the middle order.
Rijke was still there, reaching her half-century off 69 deliveries, but she was forced to adopt desperate measures and was bowled by Prendergast as she swung unsuccessfully across the line.
Prendergast’s pace was too sharp for the tail and she collected two more, both clean bowled, to finish with four for 24, and the innings closed on 170.
The victory almost guarantees Ireland a place in the Super Six regardless of the outcome of the Netherlands’ final match against the West Indies on Monday and Ireland’s encounter with Sri Lanka the same day.
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