New Zealand keep cool to see off Dutch
Brendan McCullum guided his side to a six wicket win with an over to spare over the Netherlands who, despite a determined effort with bat and ball, were never quite able to wrest control of the game from New Zealand.
A creditable performance from the Dutch saw them post a competitive if not overdaunting total of 151, a sixty run partnership between Tom Cooper (40*) and Captain Peter Borren (49) providing the bulk of the runs, but a good last two overs for New Zealand saw them fall 15-20 runs short of where they would have liked to be. A similarly combatative performace with the ball, with Borren again at the fore, meant Holland were able to keep the pressure on New Zealand for all but the last few balls of the chase, but some uncharacteristically ragged looking fielding prevented the required rate from climbing to the point where it might induce recklessness from the batsmen. In the event, the Dutch were perhaps one early wicket short of defending the score, specifically, the elusive wicket of Brendan McCullum whose perfectly paced 65 from 45 balls took him past the 2000 run milestone in T20I's and his team to within sight of victory.
The Dutch innings evidenced the first signs of real resilience in the top order, coming back from a slow first eight overs that brought just 42 runs and cost the wickets of Stephan Myburgh and Wesley Barresi to rebuild and then accelerate in the middle of the innings. The next ten overs brought 100 runs Borren and Cooper's 60 partnership bringing the bulk of them. After Borren was dismissed on the final ball of the 17th over, however, New Zealand came back strongly. The Dutch surrendered their momentum as James Nesham, arguably abetted by the indulgence of umpire Oxenford, sent down a series of yorkers well outside off followed by another down the leg side to flummox Ben Cooper and see the 19th through for the cost of just one run.
Borren estimated the Dutch shortfall at the interval to be about 20 runs, and events seemed to prove his estimate throughout the New Zealand chase. Though the timely wickets of Guptill and Willaimson together with some canny bowling from van der Gugten and Borren kept the Dutch well in the game, New Zealand always looked looked to be in control for as long as McCullum was at the crease. At 65-2 after 10 overs the match seemed to be pretty much New Zealand's to lose, and McCullum clearly had no intention of obliging.
It would take a moment of bone-headedness or brilliance from one side or the other to turn the game in the Netherlands favour as New Zealand closed inevitably on the total. Though in the 17th over van der Gugten finally succeeded in prizing McCullum from the crease with a sliced slower ball, the wicket fell three balls to late for the Dutch, as the preceding six over square leg and four cut through point had taken the asking rate down below a run-a-ball.
Jimmy Neesham joined Cory Anderson at the crease with 18 to get from 19 balls, and the pair provided a lesson in collected closing, Anderson putting an unduly short attempted leg stump yorker away for six before the two knocked off the remaining runs in singles and twos to take New Zealand home with an over to spare.