New Zealand beat the Netherlands by six wickets thanks to a wonderful 65 from their skipper Brendon McCullum.
The win for the Black Caps sees them move level on points with Sri Lanka and South Africa at the top of the Super 10 Group 1 in the race for the World T20 crown, two points clear of fourth-placed England.
The Netherlands suffered their third consecutive loss in the group stage proper, and they won’t progress any further in this tournament, despite a valiant effort in their three games to date.
A rapid-fire 40 from Tom Cooper late in the innings gave them hope here, but their total of 151-4 always looked a little short given New Zealand's batting firepower.
|SJ Myburgh||c Guptill b Boult||16||23||1||1|
|MR Swart||st †Ronchi b NL McCullum||26||26||3||0|
|W Barresi†||c †Ronchi b McClenaghan||4||8||0||0|
|PW Borren*||c Williamson b Mills||49||35||7||1|
|TLW Cooper||not out||40||23||4||2|
|BN Cooper||not out||1||6||0||0|
|Extras||(b 8, lb 4, w 2, nb 1)||15|
|Total||(4 wickets; 20 overs)||151|
|New Zealand Bowling|
|New Zealand Innings|
|MJ Guptill||c †Barresi b van der Gugten||9||15||1||0|
|KS Williamson||c †Barresi b van Beek||29||22||5||0|
|BB McCullum*||c Mudassar Bukhari b van der Gugten||65||45||4||3|
|LRPL Taylor||c †Barresi b van der Gugten||18||11||1||1|
|CJ Anderson||not out||20||14||1||1|
|JDS Neesham||not out||7||7||0||0|
|Extras||(lb 2, w 2)||4|
|Total||(4 wickets; 19 overs)||152|
|T van der Gugten||4||0||30||3|
|LV van Beek||2||0||14||1|
New Zealand won the toss and elected to field, McCullum claiming that he expected the ball to hold up a little on this wicket. Netherlands skipper Peter Borren also stated he would have bowled given the chance.
Whilst the Dutch side didn’t lose a wicket in the first five overs, they really struggled to inject any early momentum in their innings. New Zealand’s bowlers hit their lines and lengths from the start, and Netherlands openers Michael Swart and Stephan Myburgh were unable to score with any fluency.
The latter, who is capable of some devastating top-order batting, tried to inject some pace into the Netherlands innings, but he top-edged a pull shot to Martin Guptill on the boundary.
Wesley Barresi came in at No. 3, but his innings lasted just eight balls, edging behind to Luke Ronchi off the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan for just four. The Dutch were teetering on 42-2.
That brought the skipper Borren to the crease, and he went about rebuilding his side’s innings. Swart was dismissed for a run-a-ball 26, but Borren and his new batting partner Tom Cooper went on the counter-attack.
They put together a partnership of 60, with the captain scoring 49 from just 35 balls before being caught by Kane Williamson off the bowling of Kyle Mills. The score was 141-4 after Borren went in the 18th over, and Cooper continued his assault on the New Zealand bowling attack.
He was joined at the crease by his brother Ben, and whilst he slowed the run rate down with his one run from six balls, Tom was hitting them to all parts in the final few overs. He cracked 40 from just 23 balls, leaving the Netherlands on 151-4 from their 20 overs.
One final boundary for Tom Cooper. He finishes on 40 from 23. NZ need 152 to win #wt20— The Cricketer (@TheCricketerMag) March 29, 2014
The New Zealand response didn't get off to the best possible start as they lost Guptill early on for just nine.
Guptill’s opening partner Williamson was going well on 29, but he was bamboozled by a slower ball, leaving the Black Caps on 56-2 in their ninth over.
With that wicket, New Zealand had arguably their two finest players at the crease in McCullum and Ross Taylor. They steadied the ship and looked to play conservatively to begin with, nudging singles, running hard and hitting the odd boundary when the bad balls came.
With 12 overs gone, New Zealand needed 70 from 48 balls, and it was wholly apparent that a jolt in the run rate was required. Taylor clearly agreed, as he cleared the fence with the first ball of the 13th over with a slap over deep midwicket.
Big six to @RossLTaylor over mid on - but he's gone next ball, skies it behind the keeper, who makes a lot of ground to take it, NZ 88-3 ^RI— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) March 29, 2014
But his aggression would cost him on the very next ball, as a leading edge saw the ball fly skyward, eventually being snaffled superbly by Dutch wicketkeeper Barresi.
With Taylor back in the hutch, McCullum became the aggressor. He struck consecutive sixes in the 15th, 16th and 17th overs to get New Zealand's required rate creeping towards a run-a-ball. The second of those sixes took the New Zealand skipper past 50.
The Netherlands did manage to claim the prize wicket of McCullum, but with the Black Caps needing just 17 from the last three overs, the game was all but done.
If there were any lingering doubts, Corey Anderson dispelled them, lofting an enormous six over the ropes from the first ball of the 18th over.
New Zealand eventually knocked off the Netherlands total with an over to spare, winning by six wickets.
The Netherlands have impressed plenty this tournament, and they will have been delighted to emerge from the initial qualifying group. As for New Zealand, they have given themselves a great chance of qualifying from what is turning into an intriguing tussle at the top of Group 1.