Dutch beat Lancashire in a Schiedam nailbiter
There was a real festival atmosphere at Thurlede in Schiedam on Monday, as a Pentecost holiday crowd of up to a thousand enjoyed glorious sunshine and watched a thrilling CB40 encounter which saw the Netherlands prevail over Lancashire by one wicket in the final over.
It was a game of radically changing fortunes, in which the two innings followed remarkably similar patterns. And the difference between the sides was once again the batting of Mudassar Bukhari, whose 26-ball 36 helped his side over what had begun to look like a looming chasm, and set them back on course for victory.
Any such outcome had seemed unlikely at the start, when after Steven Croft had won the toss and elected to bat, Stephen Moore and Ashwell Prince set off at a gallop, plundering 65 runs from the initial eight-over powerplay. They were particularly severe on Timm van der Gugten, but Michael Swart came in for some punishment as well when he replaced Bukhari five overs into the innings.
It was Ahsan Malik Jamil who contrived to cut the scoring rate, his first five-over spell conceding just 14 runs and including the wicket of Ashwell Prince, who top-edged a catch to Stephan Myburgh at point when he had made 34 from 32 deliveries.
Moore had already reached a terrific half-century by this stage, and he proceeded to add another 38 in a second-wicket stand with Croft before he eventually hit a return catch to Pieter Seelaar. Moore’s 77 came from 66 balls and included ten fours and a six, an object-lesson in how to dominate an attack. The Lancashire innings was at the halfway mark, and at 127 for two seemed likely to produce a seriously imposing target.
Karl Brown now joined his captain in a partnership of 72 in 11.2 overs, Brown contributing 41 of them but then falling to another caught-and-bowled, this time by Swart. Paul Horton followed later in the same over, and the Lancashire batting began to crumble as the Dutch bowlers fought their way back into the game.
Jamil was again instrumental, bowling Gareth Cross and trapping Ajmal Shahzad leg-before, while Swart accounted for Luke Procter and then, in the 38th over, Croft, who had made 54 off 64 deliveries when he hammered a pull shot into the hands of Tim Gruijters at deep midwicket.
Jamil removed Stephen Parry to finish with a career-best four for 40, while Swart’s four for 40 was also his first four-wicket haul in Dutch colours. Bukhari bowled Sajid Mahmood in the final over, and Lancashire had slumped from 199 for two to 236 all out in the space of 54 deliveries.
Myburgh and Swart were even more severe on the opening bowlers than Moore and Prince had been when the Orange Lions replied, Swart unleashing some glorious cover drives as he raced to 41 off 30 balls before the introduction of spin brought about his downfall in the tenth over with 83 already on the board.
He was the first of four victims for Parry, while in the next over Myburgh, after a run-a-ball 34, fell to Gary Keedy. It was the first time in his five CB40 matches that he had failed to post a half-century, but the innings still brought his aggregate in the competition to 306, at an average of 76.50.
Tom Cooper and Cameron Borgas took their side along at a rather steadier pace for 10.4 overs, adding 44 as the Lancashire spinners, in their turn, largely managed to confine the scoring to ones and twos. Only two boundaries were conceded in this period, as Parry and Keedy in particular kept the batsmen quiet on a pitch which was playing progressively lower.
Croft achieved the breakthrough, bowling Cooper when he had made 29, but this brought Wesley Barresi to the wicket, and he immediately changed the tempo once more with an enterprising 18-ball 26, which included a six over long off which was caught by Mahmood but carried over the rope.
Peter Borren, Gruijters and then Borgas then fell in quick succession, as the Dutch went from 163 for four to 180 for seven, Borgas trapped in front by Mahmood for a patient 30. The momentum had swung Lancashire’s way, and their enthusiastic travelling support began their celebration.
Enter Bukhari. He began relatively quietly, taking a series of singles and soon losing Seelaar to a brilliant one-handed catch by Cross off Shahzad’s bowling. The Orange Lions needed exactly 50 off 47 deliveries, but they only had two wickets in hand.
Van der Gugten played out Shahzad’s over, and then Bukhari went onto the offensive. A superb straight six came off Mahmood’s next over, and in Parry’s next the most decisive moment of the match came, when Croft dropped Bukhari on the midwicket boundary. To make matters worse, Van der Gugten smashed the next ball over the Lancashire captain’s head.
Bukhari is not the man to throw away such an opportunity, and he proceeded to take 20 off the next over, from Shahzad. That included three fours, struck all around the wicket, and a massive six over long on.
In the end Parry got his man, as Bukhari went over midwicket again and this time Croft took the catch safely. But now the Dutch needed just nine, with their final pair together.
Van der Gugten eased the tension somewhat with a great shot over point which reduced the deficit to five, but all concerned were fully aware that it would take just one mistake or moment of genius to give Lancashire victory. Van der Gugten and Jamil were equal to the occasion, however, and a series of singles saw them home with two balls to spare.
Parry, with four for 29, was the pick of the Lancashire bowlers, but Keedy’s one for 30 and Croft’s two for 46 were also fair reward for very good spells.
The win takes the Netherlands to the top of the group table, and should give them great confidence as they face Essex, currently without a win in the competition, on the same ground on Tuesday. But there are no easy CB40 matches, and the Dutch know from experience that Essex can be very tough opponents.