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Match Analysis

Netherlands lose their heads and fluff their lines on night of 'missed opportunity '

Van Meekeren blames conceding "easy runs" and "stupid running" for defeat

Danyal Rasool
Danyal Rasool
24-Oct-2022
Netherlands would be forgiven for thinking Australia had laid out a more generous welcome for them than for most other teams. They beat UAE and Namibia in overcast conditions, and even when they did lose, against Sri Lanka, the result in the other game went their way, and they got into the Super 12s. It's here in Hobart, though, that Australia seems to be at its hospitable best for the Netherlands team.
On a bitterly cold day with the sun hidden away behind several layers of stratocumulus clouds, a Bangladesh side that didn't have the advantage of three competitive games in Australia, and struggled against pace, bounce and sideways movement, should have been the perfect opponents. Scott Edwards even called right at the toss, and lo and behold, Netherlands had the opportunity to unleash their pace bowlers at Shakib Al Hasan's side.
Fred Klaassen having an off-day, and the Dutch perhaps getting a bit too funky with their match-up play - part-time spinner Colin Ackermann bowled the second over in swinging conditions despite two specialist spinners in the XI - allowed Bangladesh off to a decent start. But with Paul van Meekeren and Tim Pringle pulling things back and Bangladesh looking bereft of power-hitting options, Netherlands found the game going according to plan. And in the six overs - from five to 11 - Bangladesh managed just 33 runs, losing half their side along the way.
Some might have questioned why Bangladesh batted so deep as to have Mosaddek Hossain at eight, but he would end with an unbeaten 20 off 12, a priceless cameo in the final three overs that took his side to 144.
Even so, Ackermann, who spearheaded the chase, pointed out later that at the halfway mark, Netherlands might have been the happier side. "In these conditions, 140 was very chaseable," he said after the match on the Star Sports broadcast. "We definitely would have taken that at the start of the game. Especially with the rain making it easier to bat on, and coming from Geelong, where it was a tricky wicket and a slow outfield. Tonight was more batter friendly than what we've been accustomed to."
"Having part-time bowling in the 18th and 20th over, if we don't lose our heads with some stupid running, who knows?"
Paul van Meekeren
It was the performance with the bat, though, that he rued immediately after the match. An excellent first over from Taskin Ahmed got rid of two Netherlands' batters off the first two balls. But if those two wickets were earned, the two that followed were such gifts they might as well have had bows on them. A mix-up between Max O'Dowd and Bas de Leede in the fourth led to a run-out, before a similarly perplexing bit of running brought down Tom Cooper two balls later. Netherlands were 15 for 4, and had run into a hole even before the chase had began.
"The first one, I slipped," Ackermann said. "Max admitted there was never two there. It's never ideal having run -outs, so it was a bit chaotic. We needed to calm things down a bit, but those are obviously two big batters for us. Maxi's in fantastic form, and Cooper is raring to go. Those are two big wickets for us.
"In a chase like this, losing early wickets, you need to try and bat deep. Which isn't easy because Bangladesh bowled pretty well up front. They didn't give us many scoring opportunities. We knew that the pace of the wicket was good, so we could catch up at the back-end, and the fact we bat deep put us in a good position."
That deep batting ensured this wasn't the blowout it threatened to be after that disastrous start, with Netherlands having Ackermann primarily to thank for it. His 48-ball 62 was something of a lone hand as he held Bangladesh off, and Dutch interest alive. Even once he fell, No. 11 van Meekeren, who had played a starring role with the ball earlier, was good value for a few lusty blows, smashing a breezy 24 off 14 as he kept this side mathematically in it until the penultimate delivery.
It is perhaps because so much of this game went to plan that the pain and disappointment was etched so clearly on Dutch faces. "We're upset, definitely," Ackermann said. "We felt, coming into this game, it would be a good match. We felt we had the skills and capabilities to definitely beat Bangladesh today and it showed in our performance. It was a closely contested match. But we needed those partnerships at the start of the innings to really solidify our chase, and it just didn't happen today, unfortunately.
"We sat down before the game and identified this game as one we can definitely win. We know we have the skills and capability in this team to beat Full Member nations. We felt like we could definitely do it. It was a tightly contested match today, so I suppose it's a missed opportunity from our side today."
Van Meekeren was even more disconsolate. The moment was too raw for him to acknowledge any positives from the performance as they didn't reflect on the points table.
"We pride ourselves on our bowling," he said in the media interaction. "Against Sri Lanka, we gave 15 easy runs away, today we gave ten easy runs away, and we lose those games by 15 and ten. We try to make it as easy for the batters as possible, but if you give so many easy runs away, it's not ideal.
"Then, having part-time bowling in the 18th and 20th over, if we don't lose our heads with some stupid running, who knows?"
It was the disappointment of two men who know Australia might have been generous to them, but this format - and this sport towards the so-called smaller nations - certainly isn't.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000