Netherlands 193 for 4 (Myburgh 63, Cooper 45, Barresi 40*) beat Ireland 189 for 4 (Poynter 57, Porterfield 47) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Netherlands pulled off one of the best chases in Twenty20 cricket, chasing 190 in 13.5 overs to break the hearts of their opponents Ireland and Group B rivals Zimbabwe, who were watching with bated breath, to progress to the Super 10 of the World T20. Netherlands needed to achieve the formidable target in 14.2 overs to vault from No. 3 to No. 1 in the group on net run-rate, which meant they had to bat in high gear throughout.
Stephan Myburgh gave Netherlands belief that they could pull it off with an electric fifty; Tom Cooper proved the team had the back-up after Myburgh departed, and the final flourish was delivered by Wesley Barresi, who ensured qualification with a massive six over midwicket with three balls left.
After Cooper blazed six sixes in his 45, he pulled a short one from Tim Murtagh to Kevin O'Brien at deep square leg, giving Ireland a lifeline when they desperately needed one. Netherlands were anyway coasting towards the target, needing 29 off 52 balls but merely attaining it wasn't going to bring a smile to their faces. What mattered was if they could attain it in the next 18 balls. Only three more runs were scored when that Murtagh over ended, piling on the anxiety for Netherlands.
The first three balls in the next over were uneventful for Netherlands but it all changed when Barresi edged O'Brien to the third-man boundary. Two balls later, Ben Cooper siphoned off six more from the runs required with a blow over deep midwicket. Ireland needed to keep them under control for the next eight deliveries but Murtagh and Ireland hadn't yet seen all of the carnage.
Barresi made room and smashed the second ball of the over over the sightscreen, making the equation a more manageable seven off six balls. He then clobbered a four over extra cover, bringing it down to less than a run a ball for the first time. A length ball was then biffed over deep midwicket and Netherlands had pulled off the improbable, leading to wild celebrations, having jumped from third place to first in the group.
Netherlands signaled their intent from the first ball of the chase, when the captain Peter Borren went on his knee and swept to the fine-leg boundary. The real carnage began in the second over when Myburgh took on the offspinner Andy McBrine with four sixes, in an over that wnt for a soul-destroying 25. Myburgh targeted the on side, sending the first miles over long-on and the next three over deep midwicket, each longer and higher than the other.
If McBrine needed a shoulder to cry on, he could have picked any one of the five other bowlers who had the misfortune of bowling to Netherlands' determined batsmen. Alex Cusack was the next to be on the receiving end of Myburgh's blows with three consecutive sixes, bringing up the fifty in just 3.1 overs. The manic opening stand between Borren and Myburgh came to an end when George Dockrell took a stunning catch running backwards, sending back Borren. Netherlands' 91 at the end of six overs was the world record for the highest Powerplay score. It wasn't the only record they broke though.
Myburgh's fifty off 17 balls equaled the second-fastest in T20s, but he fell not too long after that, when he pulled Dockrell straight to deep midwicket. In the following over, Ireland got another breakthrough thanks to another impressive running-backwards catch under pressure by the captain William Porterfield, sending back Logan van Beek. The edge was suddenly with the Irish but the relief was only temporary.
Ironically, just moments after those two brilliant bits of catching, Ed Joyce put down a sitter in the deep. A powerful reverse sweep from Tom Cooper went straight to deep cover and Joyce fluffed it running forward.That drop didn't just burn a hole in their pockets - it set their pants on fire.
Two balls later, Tom Cooper hit the helpless bowler Dockrell over deep midwicket and in his following over, suffered further humiliation, giving away the third hat-trick of sixes in the innings. Tom Cooper, who was controversially rushed to the squad from Australia shortly before the first match, showed why he's considered their best batsman. He launched four sixes in the over, mostly over the on side. Dockrell tossed it up but it didn't induce the false shot as Tom Cooper middled them all.
After that over, the equation came down to 33 needed off 20 to qualify and the Zimbabweans, who had kept their qualification hopes alive with a hurried victory against UAE, would have begun to twitch on their seats. Had Netherlands taken longer than 14.2 overs, the Zimbabweans' effort would have been worth it.
The pressure began to tell on the fielders when the cover fielder made a schoolboy error, conceding a boundary. Murtagh finally had some success when he bowled a short one on seeing Tom Cooper advance and got him to pull to deep square leg. There were no boundaries scored off the next seven balls, but when Barresi edged O'Brien to third man, Netherlands were feeling good again and there was no looking back. By the end of the game, Netherlands had hit 19 sixes in the innings, a world record - the combined 30 sixes in the game was another record.
All the Ireland bowlers were made to look like helpless schoolboys whose lunch money was snatched by bullies. They might have felt that the match and qualification was rightfully theirs when they posted 189. Porterfield led the early assault with a 32-ball 47, skipping down the track and chipping the ball over the infield. Netherlands had used as many as seven bowlers in the first ten overs as Porterfield and Joyce set the platform for a big score. The fireworks came from Andrew Poynter and O'Brien as Ireland hit 118 from the last ten overs. Poynter was dropped by Michael Swart early in the innings but he went on to compile his own hat-trick of sixes, off Swart, on his way to a fifty off just 27 balls. O'Brien cleared the ropes with ease, with lofted drives down the ground.
At the end of the innings, Poynter was asked if 189 was enough and he replied, "I'll tell you after the game." On paper, Ireland were the favourites to qualify. Only few would have expected the first innings to be reduced to a side-show.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo