If you thought you had seen it all at the Nepal Tri-National T20I Series, you thought wrong. A nervy, but ultimately brilliantly executed last over from the bespectacled Vivian Kingma saw Netherlands claim an unlikely tie against Malaysia on the fifth day of the tournament.
In a truncated game disrupted by two rain delays, Malaysia began the last over needing seven to win, with 7 wickets in hand. Kingma began with two wides from his first three deliveries to take the South East Asians to within one ‘6’ of a famous win. But Kingma found guile and precision of the highest level in his next five deliveries. He pinned Ramly in front for a crucial wicket-dot off the second last ball and then bowled a perfect last ball yorker, limiting the Malaysians to a single and sealing the tie.
Earlier, grey skies and ‘Irish weather’ greeted players, spectators, and online viewers alike even before the day’s play began.
Malaysia won the toss, chose to bowl and took control of the game early on. Pavandeep Singh had Tobias Visee top-edge a catch to cover within the first over, and Muhammad Wafiq had talented southpaw Vikramjit Singh leg before wicket in the third over. Yesterday’s hero Bas De Leede then edged a length delivery outside off from Wafiq and was duly caught at first slip. The Netherlands slumped to 22/3 in the fourth.
Ben Cooper and Pieter Seelaar then combined for a chance-less 66-run partnership, carrying the Dutch out of trouble and towards a respectable total. Cooper was particularly aggressive towards left-arm spinner Anwar Rahman on his way to a fine 54 not out off 32 balls.
The first rain delay came in the eleventh over with Netherlands on 68/3. It was a lengthy one, and when the players came out again, the game had been reduced to a 13-over affair. Although Seelaar fell to Virandeep Singh’s round-arm darts, Antonius Staal joined Cooper to take the Dutch to a competitive 107/4.
Needing 120 runs in 13 overs under the Duckworth-Lewis recalculation, Syed Aziz wasted no time, walloping the first delivery of the innings over point for six. He and former captain Anwar Arudin then laced a couple of wide, full deliveries from Van Meekeren and Kingma for four, the latter also fortunate enough to find the boundary twice more, off edges. The introduction of teenage spinner Aryan Dutt and Bas De Leede slowed the run-rate slightly, but the Malaysians were still on course for victory at 56/0 off six overs.
The second rain delay saw Malaysia’s target readjusted yet again to 92 runs from ten overs. The delay also prompted a change in strategy from the Dutch, with captain Seelaar bringing on Sebastiaan Braat immediately after the restart, to take the pace off the ball on a slow, sticky deck. Braat bowled Arudin with an accurate leg-cutter in his first over, and had Virandeep Singh expertly caught on the long-on boundary in his second.
A flurry of wides from the Dutch kept Malaysia in the hunt, and when Aminuddin Ramly lifted Braat over long-on for six in the eighth over to take Malaysian within seven runs, it was all but over.
Enter Vivian Kingma. And the rest is history.
After going for 50 runs in his last game against Malaysia, Braat’s two overs went for a mere 14 runs, which alongside his two crucial wickets, earned him the Man of the Match award.
Although there was some initial confusion about whether the game would proceed to a super over, match officials quickly clarified the tie result, which takes the Netherlands into the tournament finals on Saturday 24 April 2021 against hosts Nepal.
For Malaysia, settling for a tie from the jaws of victory is not the outcome they would have wanted. But they will take heart from the fact that they have run the reigning T20 World Cup Qualifier champions very close in both their encounters this week. A sign no doubt that the gulf between the Associate world’s top twenty sides is narrower than many think.
Tune in tomorrow for the final round robin fixture between Nepal and Malaysia.
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