Brief scores: Netherlands 147-4 (De Leede 53*, Bracewell 2-20) lost to New Zealand 149-2 in 14 overs (Santner 77*, Mitchell 51*, De Leede 1-13) by 8 wickets
New Zealand backed up their opening win on Thursday to seal the series 2-0 in emphatic fashion as they chased down 148 with six overs and eight wickets to spare. If it was with the ball they shone in the first T20I, it was an aggressive display with the bat to finish their European trip on a high.
Stand-in captain Mitchell Santner struck his career-best knock with an unbeaten 42-ball 77 and alongside Daryl Mitchell, who contributed with a half-century of his own, made light work of the chase as the duo put on a 123-run partnership off just 65 balls.
Same time, same venue and a similar result. Initial impressions on a cold and windy Friday evening suggested not a lot had changed in 24 hours, except that it had.
What proved sufficient for the visitors with the bat on Thursday evening turned out to be well below-par for the hosts on Friday. After all, the pitch had dried up but the cold conditions meant the pitch had eased out for the batters and the outfield quickened.
New Zealand bought into the spin-heavy strategy employed by the Dutch successfully a day earlier by bringing in off-spinning all-rounder Michael Bracewell in for Lockie Ferguson. The move paid dividends after the Wellingtonian snuffed out both the Dutch openers cheaply.
The onus to resurrect the Dutch innings once again fell on Bas de Leede, who struck his second half-century on the trot with an unbeaten 48-ball 53, with the score 44-3. In the company of Tom Cooper, the pair put on a 57-run stand for the fourth wicket.
De Leede was particularly proactive after overcoming a slow start. He whipped Ben Sears through point to get off the mark with a boundary and later slog swept Santner for a six. In all, he struck three boundaries and a brace of sixes. Cooper (26) was innovative as he reverse swept Santner and then scooped Jimmy Neesham over the keeper for a pair of boundaries.
But it was captain Scott Edwards (26*), who reverse scooped Sears over third man for a six, in addition to hitting two boundaries, responsible for lending some death-over impetus in a passage of play dominated by the Kiwi quicks taking pace off the ball. With conditions increasingly favouring the batters, a total of 147-4 gave the feeling that the Dutch left a few runs out in the middle.
‘If we had gotten to that 160-mark, we would have felt it would have been a par-score,’ Edwards reflected after the game. ‘The way we bowled and fielded didn’t help show what the par-score was.’
As it turned out, it wasn’t the only opportunity they would have rued as the Netherlands shelled as many as three crucial catches, having held on to seven on Thursday.
Tim Pringle dropped Finn Allen in the second over of the chase at deep backward square leg and later failed to hang on to a rather tough chance off his own bowling when Santner skied a delivery in the ninth over. Bas de Leede attempted to pull off another blinder as he did in the first T20I but let it through for a six.
‘Against quality sides like these, you can’t afford to drop catches and misfield,’ Edwards surmised. ‘They’d make you pay for it.’
While Allen failed to capitalize on the reprieve, having fallen LBW to de Leede in the fourth over, Pringle redeemed himself by castling Martin Guptill with an arm-ball that went past his edge. However, Santner, who promoted himself to bat at No. 3 to negate the left-arm spin threat, rubbed salt into the Dutch wounds after being dropped.
He was dominant through the off side as he struck nine fours and four sixes at a strike-rate of 183.33. Mitchell hastened the victory push by lofting Ryan Klein out of the ground and into an adjoining water stream for back-to-back sixes before sealing the win with a boundary through midwicket.
‘This is the sort of cricket you want to be playing as preparation for a World Cup so the more of this we have, the better we are going to get and the better we will be,’ Edwards said.
The Netherlands now have eleven days before they return to action against Pakistan in Rotterdam for a three-match ODI series part of the World Cup Super League starting on August 16.
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