All-round de Leede stars as Netherlands book T20 World Cup berth

By Malhar Hathi

An all-round performance by Bas de Leede, who scored 91* and picked two wickets with the ball, helped the Netherlands to clinch their berth for the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia.

Set 138 to win against the United States of America, de Leede’s career-best batting efforts led the Dutch to a comfortable seven-wicket win with six balls to spare at the Bulawayo Athletic Club.

USA, having elected to bat, were off to a rapid start as openers Steven Taylor (26) and Monank Patel (32) forged a 51-run partnership in 5.1 overs. It took Paul van Meekeren to separate the duo and two overs later, USA skipper Patel was caught off leg-spinner Shariz Ahmed.

Once they were dismissed, other USA batters failed to capitalize on the strong start as only three other batters could register double-digit figures and manage four boundaries and two sixes between them to be bowled out for 138 with two deliveries unused.

No. 8 Nisarg Patel held fort and struck two boundaries and a six with a 23-ball 28 as he looked to power USA beyond 150. The Dutch bowlers made effective use of the bounce on offer and cleverly mixed their variations including change of pace as de Leede and van Meekeren picked two wickets apiece.

In response, Stephan Myburgh was caught off left-arm medium pacer and former USA captain Saurabh Netravalkar off the third ball of the innings for a duck but a spirited Bas de Leede and Max O’Dowd ensured a strong powerplay with a 53-run stand.

O’Dowd chipped a return catch back to left-arm spinner Nisarg Patel and Tom Cooper was caught off Cameron Stevenson ten balls and nine runs apart as the USA sensed a momentum shift with the Dutch in a spot of bother at 62-3 in the eighth over.

However, de Leede combined with skipper Scott Edwards to see off the chase in an emphatic fashion with a 77-run partnership for the fourth wicket. De Leede was particularly severe on the leg side and strong through the off with his wristy drives as he struck nine boundaries and three sixes and fittingly hit the winning runs to quash the American dream.

“The first word that comes to mind is relief,” Edwards said after the match. “I think we’ve got a great squad but these sorts of tournaments are always tricky to get through, especially when only two teams are going. But I couldn’t be happier for the group, we’ve had an awesome tournament so far and I’m looking forward to the final in a couple of days.”

The Netherlands will now take on Zimbabwe in the Final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier ‘B’ and will be keen to go back-to-back having won the Global Qualifiers in 2019.

“Zimbabwe are obviously a very strong side, we’ve watched them throughout the tournament and they are playing some good cricket but so are we. I think it will be a good game and hopefully we can get one up on them.”