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Three captains went through a whole host emotions as the first phase of the World T20 came to a dramatic conclusion. In the end, William Porterfield was distraught, Brendan Taylor phlegmatic and Peter Borren ecstatic
March 21, 2014
Features : Fortunes turn around for fearless Netherlands
Report : Netherlands stun rivals to qualify
Features : Records tumble as Netherlands make 193 in 13.5 overs
Players/Officials: Brendan Taylor | William Porterfield | Peter Borren | Stephan Myburgh | Tom Cooper
Matches: Ireland v Netherlands at Sylhet
Series/Tournaments: World T20
In three hours, you can cook a roast, watch Bruce Springsteen perform an entire concert or have your fate at the World T20 decided. Zimbabwe, Ireland and Netherlands may have wanted to be doing one of the first two but were involved in the third.
It began when Zimbabwe beat UAE. They did it as efficiently as they felt they could to ensure their net-run rate was in the black. Brendan Taylor knew his men had done all they could on the day to make give themselves a chance. "We'll rush back to the hotel and sit in front of the big screen and watch. Hopefully it goes our way," Taylors said in his post-match conference.
His eyes and the words that followed said something else. Taylor was backing Ireland to finish the job they started so well. "Ireland are looking pretty good," he said. He would know. Ireland beat Zimbabwe off the last ball in the group's opening match and dealt the UAE a thumping.
His only hope was remembering what Hong Kong did to Bangladesh yesterday. "We saw with Bangladesh last night that anything can happen but anyway..." Anyway.
Anyway Zimbabwe, as a Full Member, should have secured their spots themselves. Anyway they should not have had to rely on other teams. Anyway there was nothing more Zimbabwe could do. Anyway bowing out to Ireland was not so bad because they are the team everyone is saying should be among the elite anyway.
By the halfway stage of Ireland's match, Taylor's prediction seemed accurate. From a fairly good position of 88 for 3 midway through the 12th over, Andrew Poynter and Kevin O'Brien put on 101 runs in the remaining seven and a half overs. William Porterfield was comfortable with his team's efforts. Peter Borren was not.
When Borren headed to the ground earlier he knew that his team would not just have to win but bat quickly to get their net run-rate above Zimbabwe's. That's why he chose to chase, so they could structure their innings as needed. His idea was that Netherland would approach the innings as a curtailed chase. "We turned up today thinking we'd use 18 overs to chase Ireland. Even when Zimbabwe thrashed UAE that made me a little more difficult. I genuinely felt we had a good chance."
Then he realised they would have to hunt down a much bigger target than he hoped in fewer overs than the 20 they had available to them. "190 is a stiff chase in 20 overs, let alone 14," he said. "But we didn't have much to lose going into that second innings."
|190 is a stiff chase in 20 overs, let alone 14 But we didn't have much to lose going into that second innings Peter Borren|
Taylor, in his hotel room in Sylhet, may have started packing his bags to head back to Harare. Porterfield would have had one foot on the plane to Chittagong. Borren only knew his team needed to be braver than they had been before and make sure they left with nothing to regret.
He showed them how to himself. The first ball of the chase, Borren swept to fine leg. It was a brave shot so early in the innings but it was on. Paul Stirling had tossed it up on the leg side, Borren saw the opportunity and timed it well. With nine runs off the first over, Netherlands were off to a good start which only got better.
Ireland used another spinner and Stephan Myburgh's eyes lit up. He charged the offspinner Andy McBrine and lofted him over the boundary. Once. Twice. Three times. Four. If anyone was in any doubt about whether Netherlands were going to go for it, that thought was now erased: 24 off the over.
By the end of the fourth over, with 68 runs on the board, the tables had turned. Taylor would have still been packing his bags but his exit would have been at the hands of the unlikely. Porterfield's thoughts would have returned from Chittagong to the task at hand. Borren would have only seen a chance.
Ireland looked shocked. Their bowlers were too generous, their fielders out of sorts. They were scrambling all over the place, desperately trying to collect the ball which seemed intent on evading them. Kevin O'Brien, the man who showed the big-match temperament to guide Ireland past England in Bangalore, again made a major play. He took the first wicket, thanks to a fielder who woke up. George Dockrell ran from the infield towards the boundary to send Borren on his way.
Everything could have changed then. The Powerplay was over. One wicket could have led to many. Hope would have shifted to Taylor. Given the start Netherlands had made he may have thought they would win after the magical 14.2 mark that would see Zimbabwe qualify. Some of it would have sprinkled on Porterfield who would have seen an opening. Borren's stomach would have been in a knot. Had he thrown it all away?
All of those feelings would have multiplied when Myburgh was dismissed and then Logan van Beek.
Then everything seemed to change again. Tom Cooper, the man who would not have played in the Netherlands squad if not for any injury, controversial or not, and who has shown himself to be one of the top allrounders in this stage of the competition, was offered a chance. He reverse-swept against Dockrell, having only faced one ball and Ed Joyce at deep cover only had to accept the gift: he did not.
Cooper made them pay. Not just once, twice or three times. But six. That is how many times the ball cleared the boundary. Four times that came off Dockrell. The man who should have had his wicket.
By the time Cooper was out, Netherlands had three overs left to get to their target and qualify. They needed 29 in 18 balls. Taylor would have returned to packing his bags. Porterfield admitted he was not aware of the 14.2 cut-off, but in reality it was meaningless for Ireland: any defeat, due to Zimbabwe's improved net run-rate, would have sent them out. "We still always thought we'd pick up wickets the way they were going," a distraught Porterfield said.
Borren was looking on like a man possessed. He roared with every run. Netherlands had a whiteboard and were writing down the equation after every ball. Their team knew exactly what they needed to do and were able to plan how they were going to do it.
Three balls before they needed to be finished, they were. Wesley Barresi swiped over midwicket and Netherlands were in the main draw. Those in the dug-out charged onto the field, whopping, yelling, joyous.
Porterfield looked empty. Taylor could confirm relying on others was not a good idea. Both were due to pack. Both prematurely. Taylor was not there to say what he thought. Porterfield was. "We knew coming here, we'd need to win three games to qualify; it was a pretty simple equation for us," he said. "We played two and half very good games of cricket. We'll bounce back. We'll go back to Ireland. We've got ODIs against Sri Lanka in five weeks time and that will be the next stage for us to rebuild."
In the immediate aftermath, Borren had his wits about him enough to be able to offer his opposition some sympathy. "I can feel for them in that regard," he said of Ireland. "It's difficult to play against a team with nothing to lose. We're very excited. It's a fantastic feeling; I dont really know what to say."
A few minutes later, he knew exactly what to say. Those three hours had proved something about cricket. "The teams ranked from eight to about 18 - there are a lot of competitive teams there. Anyone can beat anyone on the day. That's been shown in the last two days."
UAE were the only team in the group stage who failed to record a single victory and even they did seemed more motivated as the tournament went on, seeing this as a way to advance the professionalism of their game. "I hope people have enjoyed the cricket. There's been some fantastic games. I hope people have sat up and noticed," Borren said. For at least three hours, they did.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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