In the third and final game of the Sportsbuzz.com One Day Series, the Netherlands lost by a small margin. Nevertheless, there was a lot of praise for the way the Orange team played, which ultimately fell only 21 runs short of a victory: 308 - 288.
The West Indies won the toss and chose to bat first. For the Netherlands, Viv Kingma - who came back from injury - replaced Shariz Ahmad. For the West Indies, Anderson Phillip and Alzarri Joseph were rested in favour of seamers Jayden Seales and Shermon Lewis.
The fairly well-filled stands saw the West Indies - for whom Kyle Mayers opened the innings instead of Shamarh Brooks - struggle to get off to a good start. Viv Kingma should have had a first wicket when Mayers gave a difficult chance to Vikram Singh in the gully. Shai Hope then gave away an extremely difficult caught and bowled chance.
The Windies went on to 51/0/10, with lefthander Mayers batting a bit more offensively than his opening partner Hope. The latter became the first victim of some disciplined bowling. Just like on Thursday, Bas de Leede took his wicket. Hope's mistimed pull shot landed into the hands of Kingma at mid-off. Hope out for 24 and the West Indies on 58/1 in the twelfth over.
Offspinner Aryan Dutt was unlucky when Mayers was given not out. The review showed that the ball might have hit the pad on the very edge of the 'stroke'. Mayers got away with the 'umpire's call' and shortly thereafter reached his half century.
Moments later, Brooks was given out LBW; the review however showed that the ball would have gone over the stumps. In the very same over, Ryan Klein had a fantastic direct hit from the outfield. The batsman was only millimeters in.
Then Seelaar seemed to strike with his first ball. Again a successful review of the visitors followed. The ball went down leg, so the Windies made good use of their review options.
Halfway through the innings, the West Indies were 131/1. In the 33rd over, O'Dowd dropped a chance from Brooks off the bowling of his VOC teammate Seelaar. The Netherlands simply failed to take a wicket. Finally, Bas de Leede forced a breakthrough with a brilliant catch at deep mid wicket that dismissed Mayers for 120.
242/2 meant a partnership of 184 runs for the second wicket. Dutt, who finished with the handsome figures 1-44, got captain Pooran out for the third time in the Series, 251/3. Brandon King went out for the first time - cb Edwards, b Van Beek - although here too a review was used. Viv Kingma became the fifth wickettaker when Akeal Hosein hit a short ball into the hands of Musa Ahmad at deep mid wicket.
Shamarh Brooks (101 not out) became the second centurion at the last minute, but it was to the credit of the Dutch bowlers that the Windies could not accelerate to roughly 330. Still, 309 was a solid target.
With the Series win in the bag for the Windies, it was not surprising that Jayden Seales and Shermon Lewis were given a chance. However, they had to deal with O'Dowd and Singh, who again put a flawless opening partnership on the pitch.
In the tenth over Singh was dropped at short extra cover, but 75/0/12 was again a super start for the Netherlands. This time Vikram managed to convert his forty to a fifty, to the great satisfaction of the growing crowd. However, one ball after the drinks break, Mayers bowled Vikram via his inside edge: 98/1.
In the 21st over, O'Dowd reached another fine half century. Halfway through the innings the score was 130/1. However, it was important not to let the required run rate rise further than the now requested seven runs per over.
That worked out pretty well, until Musa Ahmad (LBW for a solid 42) misjudged at a full toss from legspinner Hayden Walsh. Bas de Leede (25) also supported O'Dowd properly with a beautiful cover drive and a six over the top, until - after a number of failed sweeps - he saw a top edge end up in the hands of the short fine leg (206/3 in the 38th over).
After this, the required run rate quickly increased to well over eight runs per over. Edwards and O'Dowd had to look for boundaries. However, with his very last ball of the Series, Hosein bowled the visibly tired O'Dowd for a majestic 89.
The score of 239/4 meant the Netherlands needed 70 runs from 42 balls. Edwards (18 out of 19) fell on a reverse sweep and the short 'heroics' of Van Beek (15) and skipper Seelaar (16) offered no solace.
The Netherlands had offered a good game again but fell 20 runs short, at 288 all out with one ball to spare.
"There were plenty of positives," said acting coach Ryan Cook, "but we have to learn to play well for longer periods of time. The West Indies had big partnerships with two centuries and we didn't. That made all the difference. Not those moments and decisions that just didn't fall our way – every team has them. We have to focus on things we can control."
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.