With only the most fleeting of doubts, New Zealand defeated the Netherlands yesterday in the World Twenty20. The little matter of Sri Lanka, doubtless still wondering how in a month of T20 fundays they managed to lose to England, now stand between them and the semi-finals.
It was a match that went as predicted yet presented the case for the lesser nations at major T20 events. Netherlands, dismissed for 39 in their first match of this group, have now twice played with pluck and intelligence.
They gave South Africa a real fright earlier in the week before the finishing line blinded them and they succumbed by six runs. After being asked to bat yesterday they made a composed total of 151 for 6, which was 20 fewer than they probably needed.
Had the Netherlands’ attacking left-handed opener Stephan Myburgh stayed around a couple more overs, this might have been possible.
Peter Borren, the captain, and Tom Cooper played with gusto in the middle overs, but the addition of only 10 runs in the last three overs was well short of requirements. New Zealand paced their innings well and Brendon McCullum’s 65 from 45 balls, with four fours and three sixes, gave them room for manoeuvre. McCullum became the first player to score 2,000 runs in Twenty20 internationals, more than 500 ahead of the batsman in second place.