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Last chance to impress for Ireland and Netherlands

Wisden India logo Wisden India 12-03-2016

Ireland and the Netherlands, two teams that have been calling out – no, crying out – for more opportunities against top teams as they plan their progress, take on each other in their final match of the ICC World Twenty20 on Sunday (March 13) in Dharamsala. Rain permitting.

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Failing to capture key moments in the only matches they have played, inclement weather, and the harsh format meant that both sides were knocked out of the competition despite playing only a little more than three hours of cricket each.

The Netherlands would consider themselves the unluckier of the two, having put up a stiff fight against Bangladesh, while Ireland find themselves in this situation after a shock loss to Oman.

The result of the Sunday match might not impact the tournament in any way but no clash between two associates is ever a dead rubber. They have limited opportunities at this level and each game is a chance to show the world what they are capable of.

That, perhaps, explains why even amid their heartbreaking exits, the captains of both the teams spoke about the importance of the game.

“We play about nine games in a year. And in two days that’s one of them,” said Peter Borren, the Netherlands captain, on Friday. “It’s a big game. We love playing against Ireland. We have had a bit of success against them recently and it’s always a good game of cricket. Hopefully we can put on a real show.

“Everyone can see what teams like Ireland and Holland are capable of. We have got that opportunity. I don’t think it will be too tough to motivate the boys for that opportunity.”

William Porterfield, Ireland’s captain, echoed Borren. If the game does take place, Ireland must look to improve from their shows against Oman and Bangladesh. They looked dazed in the little play that was possible on Friday against the Test-playing nation – perhaps a carry-over of the Oman shock – dropping catches and missing stumping chances. Their bowlers, too, couldn’t find the right spots and were hammered by Tamim Iqbal as Bangladesh put up 94 from eight overs before the game was called off.

The Netherlands didn’t do much wrong in their game against Bangladesh – maybe one bad over each with bat and ball – and would look for some finetuning.

The biggest challenge for both sides would be to stay in the present without thinking about the past or the future. That, though, wouldn’t be easy in a gloomy environment. Understandably, both sides skipped practice on Saturday.

Importantly, the rain has to stay away from the HPCA stadium. Sunil Chauhan, the head groundsman, suggested that there would be no rain after Sunday morning, but in case he’s wrong – the forecast says more rain over the next two days – the teams could be in for another frustrating day of little or no action.

And then three teams would fly back home having featured in a rain-affected first-round stage, while the focus would shift to the bigger boys in the Super 10s.

Teams (from)

Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), Andrew Balbirnie, Gary Wilson, George Dockrell, Andy McBrine, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young.

The Netherlands: Peter Borren (capt), Wesley Barresi, Logan van Beek, Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tom Cooper, Timm van der Gugten, Vivian Kingma, Ahsan Malik, Paul van Meekeren, Roelof van der Merwe, Stephan Myburgh, Max O’Dowd, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar.

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