Ireland suffer another slow death against the Dutch in Dubai

Left-arm spin proves Ireland’s Achilles’ heal yet again in T20 qualifier semi-final

Ben Cooper of the Netherlands bats during the T20 World Cup qualifier semi-final against Ireland at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Photograph: ICC

Ireland’s Achilles’ heel came back to haunt them in Dubai on Friday as they lost five wickets to left-arm spin in going down to the Netherlands by 21 runs in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup qualifier.

The pressure was off both sides having already qualified for next year’s finals in Australia, but Ireland were looking to continue their run of making the qualifier final when the tournament has been played in the United Arab Emirates.

Having lost the 2010 final to Afghanistan in Dubai, they went on win the 2012 and 2013 deciders against the same opposition in Dubai and Abu Dhabi respectively, but their hopes of making a fourth final were blown apart by the Dutch slow bowlers.

Chasing a target of 159, Ireland were well on course after openers Paul Stirling and Kevin O'Brien put on a quick half-century. But once O'Brien tamely chipped Roelof van der Merwe to Ben Cooper after making a run-a-ball 22, Ireland's reply started to splinter.


Stirling fell for 29 to Van der Merwe’s next delivery at the start of the ninth over with the score on 57, while Dutch skipper Pietar Seelaar would also get two wickets in two deliveries later on in the innings, finishing with figures of three for 17 from his four overs.

Outside of the openers, only Gareth Delany (20 from 18 balls) and his Leinster CC team-mate George Dockrell (25 not out from 12 balls) reached double figures as Ireland finished on 137 for nine.

Having decided to bat having won the toss on their first appearance at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the tournament, Ireland captain Gary Wilson would have been delighted with the start that the Irish bowlers came up with.

Mark Adair and Boyd Rankin bowled probing opening overs, not letting the Dutch batters get any momentum through the powerplay. Craig Young (two for 39) was then brought into the attack in the fourth over and immediately struck, with Harry Tector hanging on to a tough chance at point to dismiss Max O'Dowd (14). Young quickly followed up to bowl Colin Ackermann, which left the Netherlands 32 for two at the end of six overs.

Seelaar (21) and Cooper (37) stabilised the innings, scoring a steady 44-run stand in just under six overs – but Rankin then removed Seelaar and Gareth Delany ) deceived Cooper leaving the Netherlands on 102 for four with five overs left.

Those wickets, however, brought the experienced Ryan ten Doeschate and Van der Merwe together – the pair piling on the runs with a 56-run unbroken partnership from the last 30 balls as they finished on 158 for four.

Wilson admitted that Ireland let the Dutch slip away from them in the later overs of their innings.

“Having won the toss, we were disappointed for them to score 160,” said Wilson. “They have a lot of experience in their middle order with Ryan ten Doeschate, Colin Ackermann and Roelof van der Merwe.

“We have a lot of talent in our squad but we perhaps don’t quite have the same level of experience as that and I thought they were excellent in the middle overs. Looking back on it now, they may have got 20 too many – 140 would have been a good chase.”

Ireland will finish their tournament with a third-place playoff on Saturday morning (10.10am Irish time) against Namibia, who lost to tournament suprise packages Papua New Guinea by 18 runs in the second semi-final.


Netherlands 158-4 (20 ovs) (R ten Doeschate 43no, B Cooper 37, R van der Merwe 25no, P Seelaar 21; C Young 2-39), Ireland 137-9 (20 ovs) (P Stirling 29, G Dockrell 25no; P Seelaar 3-17, R van der Merwe 2-19, F Klaassen 2-32 . Netherlands won by 21 runs