Netherlands shook off a rocky start in pursuit of Oman's 146 - left-arm seamer Bilal Khan was on a hat-trick in the first over - as a 93-run stand between Man of the Match Michael Rippon and Wesley Barresi set the platform for their five-wicket victory. The top-seeded team in Group B hardly broke a sweat until two wickets in four balls accounted for both Rippon and Barresi to leave Netherlands needing 46 off 28 balls with two fresh batsmen at the crease.
Roelof van der Merwe shone at the end, scoring an unbeaten 35 off just 15 balls. Oman's bowlers continued to scratch and claw, claiming captain Peter Borren caught behind as Netherlands required 18 to win off the final 12 balls. But Max O'Dowd's straight six into the Oman dugout four balls into the 19th over brought the equation down to a run a ball and van der Merwe's sixth four clinched victory with four balls to spare.
Oman were competitive for long stretches of the match, but shot themselves in the foot several times to give the momentum back to Netherlands. Opener Zeeshan Maqsood was the only top-order batsman to fire for Oman. He creamed the first ball he faced for four over mid-off and continued to hum along - he struck three fours through the off side against Ahsan Malik in the sixth over - with the only trouble provided by Paul van Meekeren's height and bounce.
At the opposite end, Khawar Ali was bogged down scoring just 2 off his first 10 balls. In an effort to get unshackled, Khawar charged on the last ball of the ninth over and drove firmly back to Rippon, who deflected the ball onto the stumps with Maqsood run-out backing up too far.
Khawar made it a double-whammy in the 14th over when he was involved in a comical run-out. He skied a slog against Rippon who backpedaled chasing the ball as Khawar took a lackadaisical start to make sure a new batsman wouldn't be on strike, but Rippon spilled the catch and soon fired a throw. He missed and Timm van der Gugten mishandled the backup at short fine leg. A mix-up ensued between the batsmen for the overthrow and Ajay Lalcheta was halfway down the track when Khawar decided against the run and van der Gugten relayed the ball to Barresi at the striker's end.
Three balls later, Khawar ended a forgettable stay at the crease by dragging his back foot out on another attempted heave and was stumped for 17 off 26 balls. A 57-run stand between Naseem Khushi and Khurram Nawaz salvaged some respect for Oman to get them to 146 but much of the damage had already been done.
Van der Merwe gives the finishing touch
Fifteen deliveries, 15 scoring shots and zero dot balls for van der Merwe after arriving with the pressure rising in the chase. He tickled the first ball he faced - a yorker - past short fine leg for four and turning yorkers into runs was a recurring theme in his innings.
The pivotal sequence came in the 17th over as Bilal returned after his first-over gems on the off stump line to Stephan Myburgh and Ben Cooper. Four of the first five balls in the 17th over bowled by Bilal were yorkers, but Netherlands scored off every one.
The crème de la crème came on the third ball when van der Merwe took a step forward to convert it into a low full toss, carving it perfectly between point and backward point for four. Bilal dropped short on the last ball and van der Merwe pulled him with ease past short fine leg for another four to conclude a 12-run over. Van der Merwe dug out a yorker for the winning shot over point as well.
"I think that in my time with the Netherlands, that's Roelof's best performance so far," Netherlands interim coach Chris Adams said after the match. "We expect him to bowl well, we expect him to field well and we expect him to bring a lot in the change room. We also expect him to play innings like that and I think he's been a little bit shy of doing that so far. It's a tough time to come in and it was a tough ask today but he played the sort of innings which tends to determine T20 games."
Paul van Meekeren's 1 for 21 in four overs made him the third-most economical bowler on the day, but that does not do justice to how much difficulty he posed for Oman's batsmen. He set the tone for Khawar's nightmare by greeting him with a bouncer in the fifth over and continued to use the short ball to great effect, something every fast bowler struggled with on the first day.
Van Meekeren's first three overs went for just nine runs. Even after an overstep in the 11th, Lalcheta couldn't lay bat on the free hit. Several balls in his final over were mistimed in the air before falling safely in no man's land. His only bad ball was his last delivery, a length ball swatted by Khushi that just cleared a leaping Pieter Seelaar on the midwicket rope for six. He may prove a handful for Scotland on Tuesday in a battle of Group B unbeatens.