Ireland rout Netherlands to reach World Twenty20
Ireland 151 for 6 (Cusack 65, Jonkman 2-21) beat Netherlands 86 (ten Doeschate 32, Dockrell 4-20) by 65 runs
Tournament favourites Ireland have marched through to the World Twenty20 after thumping Netherlands by 65 runs. Alex Cusack and George Dockrell led the rout, with 17-year-old Dockrell finishing with 4 for 20 after Cusack dominated Ireland's innings with a 44-ball 65. It means no place for Netherlands at the 2010 World Twenty20, a year after they kicked off the 2009 tournament in memorable style by beating hosts England at Lord's.
Following defeat to Afghanistan in their opening fixture of the tournament Ireland captain William Porterfield outlined simply that Ireland "had to win every game from here", and his side have done exactly that. They arrived at the ground today knowing victory would secure the berth in the Caribbean but faced a Netherland's team which had come off the back of a clinical victory over Afghanistan in the Super Fours.
What should have been a tense match up was barely a contest as, in front of a crowd still glowing after Afghanistan's earlier defeat of UAE, the Irish batsmen swatted their way merrily to 151 before their bowlers strangled any hopes Netherlands had of a run chase.
Porterfield once again won the toss, and had no hesitancy on batting first on a wearing, tiring surface. Throughout the tournament Porterfield has looked in good touch, without really going on, and today was no exception. After swatting his second ball for four he was out in the second over, trying to clear midwicket with a clip off his legs. It brought Cusack to the wicket and together with Niall O'Brien, the pair set the tone for the rest of the match. Cusack dominated the 49-run stand, punishing the short stuff from the pacemen and going after Pieter Seelaar's left-arm spin. O'Brien fell, smacking Mohammad Kashif straight to short cover for 11 and he was followed by Trent Johnston an over later.
With 65 on the board at the half-way stage, Netherlands had an opportunity to squeeze the Irish middle order. However, Cusack continued to control the game, smiting Seelaar for two more massive sixes straight down the ground. He brought up his fifty from 31 balls and looked set for plenty more until Daan van Bunge intervened with a stunning one-handed catch running backwards from a mistimed cover drive.
Kevin O'Brien fell three balls later for a duck, top-edging an attempted pull shot back to Mark Jonkman but the two wickets in the over proved a false dawn for Netherlands. Gary Wilson, who played so well in the win over UAE yesterday, clubbed four boundaries in his 29 before John Mooney and Andrew White helped lift Ireland to an imposing 151.
On a sluggish surface it was always going to be a difficult chase for Netherlands, and when they Peter Connell took two wickets in his first over it looked nearly impossible. Baz Zuiderent and Eric Szwarczynski tried to recover, adding 39 before they were both dismissed in the eighth over. Johnston has proved time and again how effective his nagging medium pacers can be, and he first trapped Zuiderent in front before deceiving Szwarczynski with an excellent slower ball and bowling him off an inside edge.
It opened the floodgates for Dockrell to burst through. He proved decisive in yesterday's victory over UAE, claiming a crucial lbw and, buoyed by that performance, was excellent today. Mixing up his pace and flight nicely he claimed his best figures and ran through Netherlands' lower order. van Bunge, who has been in good touch through the tournament, was deceived by a flatter quicker ball as he advanced down the track, and Niall O'Brien whipped off the bails in a flash to give the spinner the first of his four wickets.
It means Ireland and Afghanistan face each other in a largely academic final, given that both sides have already qualified for the main event, which starts in May.
Sahil Dutta is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo