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Dutch prove to be too strong for brave Namibia

It might not have been of great significance in the overall context of the World Cup, but for Namibia and the Netherlands this match represented the summit of their ambitions to return from South Africa with a victory of which to boast

Ralph Dellor
It might not have been of great significance in the overall context of the World Cup, but for Namibia and the Netherlands this match represented the summit of their ambitions to return from South Africa with a victory of which to boast. It was the Dutch who proved to be just a little bit too strong and they claimed their first one-day international victory by 64 runs.
Having lost their captain, Roland Lefebvre to injury, the Dutch won the toss and batted first on a belter. After an early wicket, it became evident that the bowlers had had their confidence battered by battles against the bigger nations. The batsmen, on the other hand, were finding life against Gerrie Snyman and Burton van Rooi rather easier than facing Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar as they had earlier in the competition. That is no disrespect to the Namibian bowlers, but a fact of life in this hardest of cricketing schools.
A second wicket partnership between Feiko Kloppenburg and Klaas-Jan van Noortwijk worth 228 scored at a shade under six an over established a position of Dutch supremacy.
Kloppenburg was the first to reach his hundred and so became the first Dutchman to attain that score in a one-day international. He passed the milestone with what was a dangerous run that could have seen him out for 99, but the ball missed the stumps at the non-striker's end and Kloppenburg began a celebration that involved swinging his bat around as if it was the sail of a windmill. It was not an altogether inappropriate gesture from a Dutchman.
Van Noortwijk soon followed him. He was on the point of exhaustion, dropping to one knee and gasping for breath as his score matched the number on his shirt - 99. However, pushing the ball out on the off-side he raced to the other end although he too might have struggled had the shy at the stumps hit.
Kloppenburg eventually fell to a tired shot of his own, top-edging an intended slash through the off-side to the wicket-keeper. He was out for 121 from 142 balls with four sixes and six fours.
His demise preceded something of a collapse to give the Namibians some sort of reward for their efforts. Bas Zuiderent, the one professional in the Dutch side, has endured a poor World Cup. He came in after a long partnership and went out again after facing seven balls.
Louis Burger returned to the attack to bowl Zuiderent and then inflict the same fate on Tim de Leede first ball. The hat-trick ball was a poor one - a leg-side wide. Burger then suffered as Luuk van Troost and van Noortwijk, almost immobile with cramp, plundered runs aplenty off the final overs.
Van Noortwijk was undefeated on 134 from 129 balls with 11 fours and three sixes as the Netherlands reached the second highest total in this tournament by putting 314 for four on the board. The words `Dutch' and `mountain' rarely appear in the same sentence, but the Namibians certainly had a mountain to climb in pursuit of such a large Dutch total.
Nevertheless, they set off bravely in pursuit with an opening partnership between JB Burger and Morne Karg keeping the required rate within their sights. Burger already had a big score in the tournament when he embarrassed the English bowling, while Karg had only one previous innings when he was not alone in falling to Glenn McGrath. Both batted with the belief here that they could win and it was looking good until the 14th over when the score had reached 76.
That was when Kloppenburg came into the attack, fresh - if that is the right word - from his hundred. Burger tried to lift his fourth ball over mid-wicket and got the height if not the distance. He found substitute fielder Ruud Nijman on the boundary and was out for 41.
Karg followed when his score reached 41 and also fell to a catch by Nijman. This time it was a very good one as the batsman lashed de Leede high over the infield and Nijman came racing in from the cover boundary to slide under the ball right at the end of its travel.
After a period of reappraisal following the fall of those two wickets, Daniel Keulder and Gavin Murgatroyd began to take Namibia back towards the required rate with some sensible batting and the occasional lusty blow. Their third wicket partnership realised 92 in 18 overs and was beginning to cause the Dutch serious concern when Kloppenburg returned to bowl Keulder.
Keulder had scored 52 when he went, and so too had Murgatroyd when he lofted an intended big hit to Zuiderent at mid-off off the bowling of Hendrik-Jan Mol. That was virtually the end of the challenge that had lasted for a creditable 35 overs.
Kloppenburg claimed the wickets of Louis Burger and Snyman to be on a hat-trick, but finished his ten over allocation before he could claim a fifth wicket. Adeel Raja had Sarel Burger stumped by the impressive Jeroen Smits and bowled Melt van Schoor before claiming the last wicket to seal the win.
Van Noortwijk had to sit out the second half of the match as the exertions of his innings had caused him to suffer dehydration. He watched from the cool of the pavilion on a saline drip as his colleagues clinched the win. He could have been refreshed by going out onto the field, for midway through the Namibian innings an automatic sprinkler suddenly popped up out of the ground to give a cooling spray to anyone within range.
Wicket-keeper Smits looked on as the groundsman rushed to the middle while waving frantically to the control room to have the system switched off. The Dutch, however, have years of experience when it comes to dealing with water where they do not want it. Smits simply trod on the sprinkler head and it obligingly went back into the ground.