Day 8 – Match Day vs England Lions T20 in Pune
After having a well deserved day off for players, as well as staff, it was all back to business today, in what was the last fixture for the tour. As discussed in the team meeting the previous evening, we really wanted to end off the tour on the right note. Not in terms of the result, but rather in the way we go about our business. We wanted to first of all to put in a solid fielding performance, and for the bowlers we wanted to focus on summing up the wicket (types of deliveries, and lengths to bowl), and executing our plans to various batters. All the batters are in good touch, so for them it was just about going out and sticking to what has been working for us the whole tour; contact points, and keeping our shape nicely in the shot.
Not that the toss was going to determine the winner, but it was still a good toss to win as the wicket was always a bit damp early morning due to the dew on the field. Normally Peter Borren is woeful when it comes to the toss of the coin, but for the last two games he has called correctly, and had no hesitation in sending the English into bat. As always, we wanted to get through the Power Play overs pretty quickly with minimal damage. So the onus was on the opening bowlers to get us off to a good start. Young Paul van Meekeren continued to impress, and started off with just 4 runs off his first over. Michael Swart backed him up on the other end with same amount of runs conceded. Swart eventually got the breakthrough in the 4th over when he removed Michael Lumb with a well flighted, held back off-spinner. Malik did the rest with a regulation catch at backward point. With the score after 5 overs being 34/1, England knew they had to try and maximise the last of the restricted overs. The skipper brought on Tim Gruijters, who removed dangerous Alex Hayles, when he tried to hit him over mid-off but ended up mis-timing it straight to Pieter Seelar. With the batting line-up that England have, I can assure you that we would have taken 43/2 after 6 overs before the game.
Continued pressure from both ends, and clever tactical bowling changes, meant that England were always on the back foot. Seelar and Borren doing a fantastic job together at keeping the ‘big boys’ at bay. Seelar removed both Kieswetter, and James Taylor, and returned with potentially match winning figures of 2/15 in 4 overs. Borren completed his allotted 4 overs for just 25 runs, and this meant that the big hitters in Balance, Buttler, and Stokes had to come in from ball one and make the play. Ashan Malik was again crafty in the use of his slower ball, and cutters, and rightfully claimed the wickets of Ballance, and Buttler. The latter being caught at deep mid-wicket with a well bowled slower ball bouncer. Before England knew it, 20 overs were bowled, and were restricted to 144. Once again a solid performance by the boys in orange, and a quick ten minute change over meant that openers Swart and Myburgh had to get out to the middle and face the music.
England opened with a spinner, Briggs, and with mid-on up Swart backed himself with his trademark pick up sweep shot, but he unfortunately absolutely pinged it straight to the man he was trying to clear. A half a meter either way of him, and it would of been once bounce four material. In walked the in-form Alexei Kervezee, and after a few shaky mistimed shots over the inner-ring, he set off on a whirlwind like innings, taking all the England bowlers to the cleaners. He was aptly supported by his room-mate Myburgh, who was in new territory, playing the more subdued partner of the two. Together these two put on a 108 run partnership off just 72 balls, with Kervezee losing his wicket with the score on 109 in the 13th over. He departed for a extremely well played 80 runs off 45 deliveries, with a strike rate of 178% which included 13 fours and one six. Myburgh soon departed for 35 (37) but not after he took 12 runs off a Jade Dernbach over.
122/3 after 14 overs, meant that the incoming batsmen had to get 23 runs off 36 balls. Unfortunately the skipper could not be there in the end when the winning runs were scored, as he was run out with a direct hit from mid-off by Ben Stokes. Wicket keeper, Wesley Baressi, hit two beautiful boundaries to ease the pressure a bit, and when Bukhari flicked a low full toss for four through the leg side, we were all but over the finish line. It was left up to Baressi again to do the honours, as he did in the previous game, for scoring the winning runs with a huge six over mid-on off the bowling of Stokes. The Netherlands boys reaching the target of 145 with 4 wickets down in the 18th over. Hugs, high fives, and smiles all round capped off another great performance by the boys. To win the series 2 – 1 after being beaten badly in the first game, shows a lot of character, and congratulations has to go to each and every player that was part of this tour, for making it happen.
England Lions 144/6 in 20 overs
James Taylor 29 (26)
Ben Stokes 28* (14)
Gary Ballance 26 (20)
Pieter Seelar 2/15 in 4
Malik 2/27 in 3
Paul van Meekeren 0/28 in 4
Peter Borren 0/25 in 4
Michael Swart 1/38 in 4
Tim Gruijters 1/9 in 1
Netherlands XI 149/4 in 17.3 overs
Alexei Kervezee 80 (45)
Stephan Myburgh 35 (37)
Wesley Baressi 16* (11)
Netherlands XI win by 6 wickets (15 balls to spare)
A quick team huddle after the game saw Head Coach give an understandably emotional thanks to everyone involved, in capping off what truly has been an amazing tour. A big thank you has to go to our sponsors, ABN AMRO, for making this tour a reality for us. It is amazing to see what growth the team has made since the two parties have joined forces. Long may it continue. With a hectic scheduled finished, it is now time for everyone to relax, and look forward to going home, and spending Christmas with their families and loved ones. The festivities this year will undoubtedly be a little bit sweeter, having beaten a very strong England Lions Team 2 – 1.
It is on that note that I sign off, and thank everyone for making my first trip to India one that I will never forget. The passion in this country for cricket is second to none, and I hope to be back soon in the sub-continent, ready to face any cricket challenges head on. Keep your eyes and ears on The Netherlands Cricket Team, (via this blog: http://www.rooster55555.wordpress.com, and the KNCB website: http://www.kncb.nl) as we continue on our quest to qualify for the 2014 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, and the 50 over 2015 World Cup in Australia. The next challenge for us being an away series against Namibia in April 2013.
Until then, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.