|European Women's Under 17 Championship: The Netherlands, July 2009|
Fighting Dutch give dominant Ireland a serious scare
Ireland maintained their unbeaten record at the end of the 40-over phase of the Women’s Under 17 championship, but not before they had been given a serious scare by a Dutch batting performance which revealed considerable progress since Monday’s defeat by Scotland.
The Irish had apparently taken control of the match after Laura Delany again won the toss and elected to bat, with Kim Garth hitting a superb 93 not out, off 134 deliveries with two fours, and enabling her side to reach an impressive total of 204 for one off their 40 overs.
For the second time in succession the Dutch bowlers failed to make an early impression, and saw the opposing openers rack up a century stand before they were able to secure a breakthrough.
With Garth showing an admirable attacking instinct, striking the ball firmly even when defending, and Delany lending her great support with a more circumspect approach, it was the 25th over before the latter was dismissed for 38, attempting to hit across the line at a Hester Offerman delivery and out bowled.
But this was to be The Netherlands’ only success, with Shauna Kavanagh joining in the run spree with a solid 25 not out, made off 39 balls. It was Garth, however, who was the star of the show, and it was unfortunate that she finished seven runs short of what would have been a well-deserved century.
In very warm conditions the Dutch bowlers stuck to their task well, especially Offerman, captain Christine Erkelens and Coco Steenstra Toussaint, but their inability to take wickets in the first 30 overs is a genuine worry. Still, containing a very strong Irish batting side to just over 200 was a reasonable effort after Scotland made 192 against the same attack on Monday.
When the Dutch replied, Miranda Veringmeier carried the attack to the Irish bowlers with some extremely enterprising batting, putting on 55 with Steenstra Toussaint in less than ten overs, and going on to hit a 49-ball 67, including ten boundaries – more than had been scored in Monday’s and Tuesday’s matches combined.
Her aggressive hitting caused some genuine panic in the Irish ranks, and the total reached 101 for two before she was finally out, bowled by the persistent and constantly dangerous Delany.
That initiated a mini-collapse, and the score declined to 113 for five with Hannah de Burgh White and Laura Boylan picking up a wicket apiece.
But then Maxime Entrop joined Erkelens, and these two put on 42 for the sixth wicket in eleven overs, scoring with increasing freedom as time went on. The required run rate was continuing to mount, but again the Irish began to crack under the pressure, and for a moment it seemed as if the Dutch might pull off an extraordinary victory.
In the end, however, Louise McCarthy removed Erkelens, and when Delany – inevitably – took a return catch from Entrop off the very next ball, the match had swung decisively Ireland’s way. So much so, indeed, that only one run – from a beamer – was added as the remaining wickets fell, so that The Netherlands lost their last five wickets for just one run.
Delany, with four for 25, was the leading wicket-taker, with Kelly Ann Carlin returning at the end to finish things off and end with two for 12.
Thursday will see a three-match Twenty20 round robin, the results of which will be combined with the 40-over matches to decide the championship. But it is clear that Ireland’s all-round strength will make them a very difficult side to beat.