Netherlands 158 for 4 (Ackermann 41*, Myburgh 37, Cooper 35, Maharaj 2-27) beat South Africa 145 for 8 (Rossouw 25, Glover 3-9, Klaassen 2-20, de Leede 2-25) by 13 runs
That sinking feeling! The all-too-familiar ‘c’ thing, which will reverberate – again – for a while to come. And the despondency, knocked out of yet another World Cup despite having everything under their control…
South Africa will have to deal with all of that and more after their horror run in Adelaide culminated in yet another heartbreak, this one perhaps bigger than anything they have endured in recent times on the cricket field.
But Netherlands, they will celebrate long and hard after scripting a seminal moment in their cricket history. If qualification into the Super 12s was big, victory over one of the pre-tournament favourites on Sunday could be even bigger, for a top-four finish in the group will guarantee them automatic qualification for the next edition of the T20 World Cup, in 2024.
Along with Netherlands, all of Pakistan and Bangladesh would have celebrated, too. The match between those two teams later in the afternoon – which could have been dead had South Africa won – was turned into a knockout contest to decide the second semi-finalists from Group 1, because Netherlands’ win also meant India qualified for the final four.
The man who had been standing in the way of Netherlands and an unlikely win was gone. What followed was mayhem and magic in equal measure. South Africa imploded, Netherlands swelled with passion and pride. It was a victory to savour for the team in orange, a bitter pill to swallow for the men in green.
The Netherlands’ charge started with Stephan Myburgh‘s big-hitting up front. In the second over, he hit Kagiso Rabada on the up twice to the extra-cover boundary to make his intentions clear. Over the course of the next 20 minutes, he gave a fine exhibition of aggressive batting, seemingly unperturbed by the reputation of Rabada and Anrich Nortje, as he pulled, whipped, cut and drove his way to seven boundaries. At 56 for no loss in eight overs, he had set a firm base. Even as Myburgh went hell for leather, Max O’Dowd was happy to turn the strike over and play the perfect second foil.
Netherlands lost Myburgh to a slog sweep, but Tom Cooper, with all his experience of playing in the BBL, kept up the tempo. Let off on 11 when Aiden Markram put down a tough return chance, Cooper used the shorter boundaries to his advantage as he punished Markram and Rabada. But it wasn’t just the pull that he profited from. With fields set for the shot, Cooper reverse-swept Keshav Maharaj for six over deep point where there were no boundary riders. He was beginning to look dangerous, but South Africa hit back with the wickets of O’Dowd and him in quick succession.
Going into the last four overs, Netherlands were in a slowdown with Colin Ackermann struggling for timing. He was on 9 off 11 and simply had to find his hitting range quickly. The wickets of Cooper and Bas de Leede didn’t help. But Netherlands managed to wrest back the momentum in the 19th over when Rabada was hit for three fours, including a neat reverse scoop by Scott Edwards. Ackermann then kicked up the perfect finish by muscling two sixes in the final over, bowled by Wayne Parnell, to finish with 41 not out off 26. The last two overs brought Netherlands 31 and all the momentum heading into the break.
Quinton de Kock crashed a cover drive off the second ball but left-arm seamer Fred Klaassen stuck to his strengths – varying his lengths and being deadly accurate – to string up 12 dot balls in his first three overs, all of them in the powerplay. The bonus was the wicket of de Kock, who nicked behind while charing down the track. Temba Bavuma, who has been under pressure to score every time he’s batted, was the next to go for a run-a-ball 20 when he played all around a full delivery after shuffling a long way across. He saw his leg stump flattened and South Africa slipped to 39 for 2.
Six years ago, seamer Brandon Glover debuted for Boland in first-class cricket, hoping to earn his stripes with South Africa. Fate would have something else in store. Three years after debuting in T20Is for Netherlands, Glover made his most impactful contribution yet, nipping out three big batters, including the set Rilee Rossouw and dangerman Miller – to that van der Merwe catch – to tilt the scales in Netherlands’ favour. In between, Netherlands also had the wicket of Markram when Myburgh, who had let off Miller only a short while earlier at backward point, held on to an excellent catch at extra cover. The wheels had truly come off for South Africa. Glover and de Leede stuck to their lengths to ensure no late dramas as Netherlands sealed a historic win.