Cricket: The Netherlands fall short despite de Leede’s masterclass  

Photo: KNCB via Twitter
Photo: KNCB/ Gerhard van der Laarse

Brief scores: New Zealand 148-7 (Guptill 45, Neesham 32, Ahmad 2-15) beat Netherlands 132 (de Leede 66, Edwards 20, Tickner 4-27) by 16 runs

Career-best T20I figures for Blair Tickner (4-27) and Ben Sears (3-22) sealed a 16-run victory for New Zealand as they comfortably defended a below-par total of 148 on a tricky surface against the Netherlands in the first T20I at Voorburg.

On a two-paced wicket with uneven bounce, batting proved to be far from an easy task. If it was trial by spin for the visitors, it took a successful short-ball ploy in response to undo the Dutch on a cloudy evening.

The Netherlands opted for a spin-heavy strategy on a sluggish surface as left-arm spinners Tim Pringle and Clayton Floyd sent down four overs in the powerplay after New Zealand won the toss and opted to bat first. The move paid off as Pringle accounted for opener Finn Allen’s wicket in the third over, caught at mid-on, before No. 3 Dane Cleaver skied a Floyd delivery to Bas de Leede in the sixth over.


The spinners, including leg-spinner Shariz Ahmad (2-15), kept the run-flow in check as boundaries dried up in the middle-overs. Martin Guptill looked ominous with a 36-ball 45 but failed to clear the leg-side boundary in the 14th over trying to up the ante handing debutant Ryan Klein his maiden T20I scalp. 19-year-old Ahmad piled on more misery for the visitors as he dismissed Daryl Mitchell, caught at long-on, and Glenn Phillips, caught and bowled, to reduce them to 95-5 in the 15th over.

Jimmy Neesham went all guns blazing from the get-go as he punished full deliveries from Logan van Beek in the 17th over to tonk a 17-ball 32, a knock that featured two boundaries and as many sixes. One of the key positives for the Dutch was their high-quality fielding and a fine example of that was de Leede timing his jump to perfection at deep mid-wicket boundary to snaffle Neesham’s powerful crack off a van Beek full-toss to cut short his assault.

However, it did little to deter Ish Sodhi’s resolve who landed blows in the penultimate over to hoist Floyd twice over the square leg boundary for two sixes and a four to take 20 runs off it and ensure the Blackcaps pushed towards the 150-mark. In the end, it proved to be more than enough despite finishing on 148-7.

Bas de Leede led the Dutch chase with a valiant 52-ball 66, his third T20I half-century, to continue a stellar run of form from the T20 World Cup Qualifiers but found little support from the other end. As many as five batters fell to short or back-of-a-length deliveries, a long-standing weakness against pace brutally exposed on their winless tour to New Zealand in March.

Difficult pitch

On a pitch that demanded patience and for batters to strike a balance between strike-rotation and big shots, de Leede crafted a composed knock born out of conviction while others committed to desperation. He soaked up the pressure when the ball was moving around and belted drives and pulls when the opportunity presented itself.

Barring a 49-run partnership between de Leede and captain Scott Edwards (20), who chipped in with two boundaries and a six, it seemed that the Dutch were playing catch-up all along after being reduced to 15-3. Klein was the only other batter to register a double-digit score before the hosts were shot out for 132 with three deliveries unused.

‘The bowlers played their role. I thought 148, at the end of the day, was probably below par,’ said Edwards at the post-match presentation. ‘The wicket was a little bit tricky. I thought we were in the game but they (New Zealand) bowled really well upfront and put us behind the eight-ball. Bas played an unbelievable innings but we just couldn’t get there.’

The two sides meet again on Friday for the second and final T20I of the series.

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