Canada, after dismissing Netherlands cheaply, batted rather painfully before finally achieving a victory by four wickets, with three balls to spare, to open their ICC World Twenty20 qualifying campaign successfully. The bowling of both sides was good, but there was little batting to savour.
It was a significant come-down for Netherlands after their impressive victory over Kenya in the first game of the day, but shows how quickly Twenty20 fortunes can change and how open this tournament will be.
Netherlands decided to bat on winning the toss. They quickly lost their opening batsman, Darron Reekers, third ball without a run scored, caught and bowled by Henry Osinde, the ball bouncing up off glove and helmet.
Eric Szwarcynski and Daan van Bunge repaired the damage by good batting and running before the former sliced a catch to third man, departing for 19; 34 for 1 in the seventh over. This was to be the high point of Netherlands' innings. Osinde finished his four overs with an impressive 2 for 21.
The middle order trembled, with Tim de Grooth holing out on the leg boundary for 9 of six balls and van Bunge caught in the covers for a solid 12; at 53 for 4, taken to 58 at the ten-over mark, the innings was at the crossroads. It took a wrong turn, with the star role played by medium-pacer Harvir Baidwan. Ryan ten Doeschate, the hero of Netherlands' first match, sliced a catch to backward point to depart for 4 and Henk Mol was stumped first ball. After a run-out removed Mudassar Bakhari, Edgar Schiferli was lbw, and the score was a disastrous 65 for 8.
Soon after, Baidwan finished his spell of devastation with 4 for 19. At the other end, the offspinner John Davison took no wickets, but kept the pressure right on by conceding a mere 11 runs off his four overs, the most economical bowler of a long three-match day.
One batsman stood firm amid the ruins, Peter Borren, who batted so sensibly yet firmly that it was hard to realize he was scoring at better than a run a ball. Jeroen Smits gave him good support for a while with a noble 5 runs, their stand adding 29, before the innings closed for 97 in the nineteenth over.
When Canada, chasing an even less challenging target than Ireland had in the previous match, Davison was soon up to his usual tricks. Mudassar Bukhari had the misfortune to be bowling the second over of the innings, and he found successive deliveries planted for six over midwicket and long leg.
He was fortunate to limit the damage to 17 runs off the over. But Davison had more trouble with the bowling of Edgar Schiferli: after a couple of swings and misses, he tried to turn a ball to leg and edged a catch to slip; gone for 19, off 10 balls, out of 21.
Geoff Barnett and Abdool Samad took it easy - no-frills batting - as they added 34 at five an over before Samad (19) holed out on the leg boundary at 57 for 2, after 10 overs. Next man Ashish Bagai was run out quickly for 1, and Canada had to beware falling into the trap from which Ireland only just wriggled free in the previous match, getting into trouble through chasing a low target too slowly.
Barnett was next to go, caught in the deep for 21 attempting to increase the run rate, and the batsmen found it harder than ever to score off the tight Netherlands bowling. Schiferli took one for only 10 runs off his four overs, but then at last Sunil Dhaniram looked to take charge, though he was lucky to avoid being run out. He lost Zubin Surkari for a rather painful 6; eight were still needed off the last two overs.
Dhaniram ran himself out for 26, leaving three off the last over with four wickets in hand, which was finally achieved.