On Tuesday the Dutch men were close to a sensational victory over Pakistan. In the first of three World Cup qualifying matches, Pakistan posted a solid 314. Due to excellent knocks by Singh, Cooper and Edwards, the Netherlands reached 298.
Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first, sending out Zaman and Ul Haq as their opening batsmen. Pakistan started cautiously, trying to get used to the unknown surface.
Aryan Dutt and Viv Kingma bowled excellent opening spells. Kingma trapped Ul Haq (2 off 19) in front and bit Zaman and Babar Azam outside off.
However, the tenth over - Viv’s fifth - was the notorious ‘one over too many’. It went for fourteen.
Bas de Leede deserved a wicket when Zaman hit the ball into the hands of Kingma at third man. Unfortunately for the Netherlands the chance went down.
Zaman and Azam now accelerated. The runrate increased from 73/1/20 (3.65) to 162/1/30 (5.40).
After their initial good spells, the bowlers became less economical. Zaman and Azam seemed determined to cruise towards a 300+ score together.
Logan van Beek prevented that from happening. Uncharacteristically, Babar Azam mistimed a ball and Tom Cooper took the catch. After that, Bas de Leede ran out Zaman for a well-made 109; it was 196/3.
Shortly after, De Leede trapped Mohammad Rizwan in front for 14.
In the 44th over Cooper took his second catch, dismissing Khushdil Shah for 21. In the final overs Shadab Khan and Agha Salman made a quickfire 48 run partnership for the seventh wicket.
In the 49th over Pakistan reached 300. De Leede’s final over should have resulted in his third wicket, but the chance was spilled by the sweeper fielder. Pakistan finished on 314.
In the very first over Vikram Singh was dropped - a sharp chance in the covers. Agha Salman got his fingertips to it.
The first over from debutant Naseem Shah started less impressive with three wides. Still, the 19 year old seamer caused the first breakthrough getting O’Dowd lbw.
Barresi, back in the team, left a ball that came in a fraction and uprooted his offstump: 24/2.
The proverbial repair activities had to be done by the young batsmen Singh and De Leede.
De Leede was given lbw in the eleventh over but the review clearly showed an inside edge. Two overs later, De Leede was eventually given lbw.
Vikram Singh was lucky as he was dropped again in the 22nd over. He reached 50 in fine style, but was even outflanked by Tom Cooper who capitulated in the 31st over for an unmatched 65 off only 54 balls: 159/4 meant a partnership of 97.
Being four wickets down implied that Vikram Singh had to play the anchor role. However, left arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz got him lbw for 65. It was 167/5.
With Edwards and Nidamanuru on the pitch the game plan was clear. The Netherlands were behind schedule and Edwards decided to play his strong sweep shots facing Nawaz. The 35th over went for 13.
With ten overs to go, the required runrate had increased quite a bit to more than nine runs per over.
On 222 Nidamanuru (15) tried to drive a length delivery, but lost his offstump.
With Van Beek, Pringle and Dutt, the Netherlands still had three capable batsmen. Van Beek was given lbw, but once again the decision was overturned by the TV umpire.
Van Beek (28 off 24) seemed to hit a six in the 48th over, but was caught by the backward square leg fielder.
Captain Edwards played an heroic knock and was unbeaten on 71.
Once again it was a game of ‘almost’ and ‘if only’. However, in the TV interviews after the match the Pakistanis confessed that they had narrowly escaped.
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EUROPEAN CRICKET CHAMPIONSHIP
The European Cricket Championship is a month-long tournament featuring 21 national teams that will contest in the second edition of ECC.