Hong Kong collapse allows Netherlands to escape with five-run win
Netherlands 330 for 7 (Myburgh 88, van der Merwe 62, Seelaar 50*) beat Hong Kong 325 for 9 (Rath 134, Hayat 83, Rippon 4-67) by five runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
With victory in sight of what would have been the highest successful chase in WCL Championship history, Hong Kong stumbled in the last six overs as Netherlands pulled off a tense five-run win at Mong Kok to take sole possession of first place on the WCL Championship table.
Hong Kong were 285 for 3 at the start of the 45th over chasing a target of 331 with Anshy Rath on 134 and Nizakat Khan on 22 but both men were caught on the boundary off the bowling of left-arm wristspinner Michael Rippon to give Netherlands hope. Rippon was eventually named Man of the Match for his game-changing spell of 4 for 67 after having been out for a duck, shouldering arms to an inswinger to open the match.
In spite of the double blow, Ehsan Khan again established control for Hong Kong by striking two fours and a six to bring the equation to 23 off 21 balls. However, momentum swung again when Ehsan was given out leg before to Roelof van der Merwe for the sixth wicket, though replays indicated the ball had come off Ehsan's glove rather than his pad.
Hong Kong still had two recognized batsmen in Waqas Khan and allrounder Aizaz Khan at the crease to begin the 48th over with 20 needed off 18 balls but Paul van Meekeren had both men caught on the boundary in the space of four balls. Waqas top-edged a flick to a ball that would have been called a leg-side wide had it been left alone but he was instead caught at deep square leg, while Aizaz was bounced out pulling to deep midwicket. Hong Kong coach Simon Cook admitted afterwards that his side succumbed due to "very poor thinking under pressure."
Ehsan Nawaz was bowled by Ahsan Malik in the 49th and Hong Kong began the final over needing ten to win with No. 10 Nadeem Ahmed and No. 11 Tanveer Ahmed at the crease. Nadeem curiously turned down singles off the first three legal balls of the over but van Meekeren then bowled two wides to keep Hong Kong afloat. Nadeem finally opted to take a single off the fourth ball and another single by Tanveer put him back on strike, but with a six needed off the final ball to win, all he could do was splice the ball to long-off to end the game.
Rath and captain Babar Hayat had put Hong Kong on the path for what seemed to be a record-setting chase with a record-breaking partnership earlier in the innings. The pair came together at 53 for 2 in the ninth after Jamie Atkinson was stumped down the leg side off Rippon. They then proceeded to add 197 for the third wicket, a record List A partnership for Hong Kong and a record partnership for any wicket in the WCL Championship. It broke the previous mark of 191 set by Namibia's Sarel Burger and Craig Williams against Scotland in 2011. Both men had their share of good fortune with Rath spilled on 3 in the slips off Peter Borren in the third over while Hayat was spilled on 64 at short midwicket off Rippon in the 32nd.
Rath's batting was impressive throughout and he brought up his maiden century for Hong Kong off 93 balls after having fallen agonizingly short of a hundred in both innings of the Intercontinental Cup encounter between the two sides that preceded this match. The stand ended when Hayat was stumped down the leg side by Wesley Barresi standing up to Borren's medium pace for 83. Crucially, a wide was not signaled for Atkinson's nor Hayat's dismissal, something which may have impacted the Hong Kong approach at the end if the two runs had been credited to their total.
Netherlands total of 330 for 7 after opting to bat was underpinned by half-centuries from Stephan Myburgh, van der Merwe and Pieter Seelaar. Myburgh overcame the loss of Rippon in the second over to blast 88 from 98 balls, including nine fours and five sixes, before he was caught off Nadeem Ahmed in the 30th over to end a 71-run stand with van der Merwe.
At 183 for 4, Borren and van der Merwe then added a rapid 60 for the fifth wicket as Borren fired 40 off 37 balls and van der Merwe 62 off 54 including four sixes. Borren fell in the 38th and van der Merwe in the 44th to disrupt a Netherlands surge. Seelaar ended unbeaten on 50 off 43 balls, having run consecutive twos to end the innings.
Hong Kong's death bowling was brilliant though - they conceded just one six and two fours in their final six overs - to hold Netherlands to what Borren admitted after the match was an under-par total on a ground with short boundaries. Thanks to the late intervention by Rippon and van Meekeren, it wound up being just enough.