Cooper, Rippon help Netherlands complete sweep of Hong Kong
Netherlands 314 for 9 (Cooper 78, Rippon 53, Ehsan Khan 3-59) beat Hong Kong 301 for 8 (Hayat 86, Rath 85, van der Merwe 2-36, Rippon 2-57) by 13 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Michael Rippon and Ben Cooper scored half-centuries for Netherlands before the visitors held off another stern charge from Hong Kong to secure a 13-run win, sealing a crucial series sweep in the pair of WCL Championship matches at Tin Kwong Road.
Hong Kong's chase unraveled in eerily similar circumstances to their first effort that fell short on Thursday as Anshy Rath, captain Babar Hayat and Nizakat Khan all made key contributions before getting out at critical stages in chasing a target of 315. Rath added 80 for the first wicket with Chris Carter (24), before Carter was beaten by turn after coming down the track to Roelof van der Merwe in the 17th over.
Rippon had gone wicketless in his initial five-over spell but Rath elected to charge him on his first ball after returning to the attack to start the 30th and the left-hander was beaten in flight and turn to be stumped for 85. Nizakat replaced him at the crease and was undeterred by the fate of the previous two batsmen, skipping down the track in the 32nd to loft Rippon against the turn over mid-off for consecutive sixes. Nizakat then carted Ahsan Malik over long-off and long-on for two more sixes in the 37th, speeding to 41 off 25 balls while bringing the equation down to 103 off 79 balls with eight wickets in hand.
However, van der Merwe dislodged him off the first ball of the 38th after Nizakat's loose whip across the line resulted in his off stump being knocked back. It was the start of a tight three-over stretch in the field for Netherlands during which the only boundary came courtesy of a dropped chance off Hayat at cover on 47. Rippon had Waqas Khan caught for 1, sweeping to deep square leg in the 40th to put more pressure on Hayat to finish the chase as Hong Kong entered the last 10 overs needing 94 to win.
The equation turned to 58 off the last five and Peter Borren struck in the 46th, having Shahid Wasif caught at long-off for 20, leaving Hong Kong's long tail exposed at 266 for 5. With 39 needed off the final three overs, Hayat finally cracked and was run out for 86 off the first ball of the 48th when a desperate attempt at a second run to stay on strike was beaten by substitute fielder Sikander Zulfiqar's throw from deep square leg.
Paul van Meekeren had Ehsan Khan caught at deep midwicket for 10 to end the 49th, leaving Ahsan Malik 24 to defend off the final over. Singles off the first three balls clinched the win mathematically, before Aizaz Khan was caught on the leg side boundary off the final ball to put a stamp on the Dutch victory.
Netherlands' imposing total of 314 for 9 was set up by Rippon, who made 53 opening the batting to go along with his 2 for 57 in the field. Rippon was named Man of the Match for the second straight game, underlining his all-round value to the Dutch after having been absent for the drawn Intercontinental Cup encounter against Hong Kong due to playing commitments with Otago in the New Zealand domestic competition.
Cooper built off the start by Rippon to top-score with 78 and teamed with van der Merwe for a 78-run fourth-wicket stand. Cooper eventually chopped on to Ehsan Khan's offspin in the 38th. Borren carried the innings further with 49 off 43 balls until he was caught at third man off a full toss from Aizaz in the 49th despite protests that the delivery should have been called a no ball on height. Hong Kong's death bowling was sharp as they conceded just two boundaries among 46 runs over the final seven overs. But they were trumped at the finish once again by an equally resilient late-overs bowling effort from Netherlands.
The result means Netherlands now sit four points clear of Papua New Guinea in first place on the WCL Championship table, putting the Dutch in a dominant position to win the competition outright. Their last four games come against Namibia, who are tied for last with just one win in eight matches, and fifth-placed Kenya. Hong Kong continue to sit on 11 points in third place and play Nepal and Papua New Guinea for their remaining four games while Papua New Guinea's final six contests come against Hong Kong, Namibia and fourth-placed Scotland - also on 11 points - in order to catch Netherlands.