The United Arab Emirates went one-up in their four-match T20 International series against the Netherlands on Saturday with a mature performance at the VRA ground in Amstelveen which exposed the limitations of an experimental, youthful Dutch side.
The tourists were given a great start after Pieter Seelaar won the toss and elected to bowl, their latest recruit, former Lahore batsman Ashfaq Ahmed plundering a 35-ball 54 which included eleven boundaries.
By the time he departed in the tenth over, caught by Max O’Dowd off Sikander Zulfiqar’s bowling, 82 runs were on the board, and Seelaar had tried six bowlers in an attempt to stem the flow of runs.
Seelaar himself was the most economical, conceding just 20 off his four overs, but Mohammad Usman took over where Ashfaq had left off, and his unbeaten 52 was even more brutal, coming from 34 deliveries with four fours and three sixes.
He eventually fell to Viv Kingma halfway through the final over, but Darius D’Silva belted two more boundaries, and with a couple of no-balls as well it cost a total of 23, sufficient to take the tally to 181 for five.
Back in the Dutch team, Stephan Myburgh was well below his most devastating form, but he and Max O’Dowd put on 54 for the first wicket, O’Dowd continuing his rich vein of run-scoring with a 35-ball knock of 51 which kept the home side in the hunt.
Ben Cooper contributed a brisk 31, but the Emirati attack bowled with greater control than the Dutch had managed, and although Scott Edwards (34 from 20) and Tonny Staal (19 not out from 17) put on 49 for the fourth wicket they were unable to find the boundary regularly enough to prevent the asking rate from steadily mounting.
Rohan Mustafa with two for 26 and Zahoor Khan with one for 26 were the pick of the bowlers, Zahoor’s exemplary final over, which conceded just six runs, ensuring that the Netherlands finished 14 short of their target.
The Dutch clearly missed key performers with both bat and ball, but coach Ryan Campbell has been at pains to stress that this series is part of a long-term development strategy to give Dutch-based players more international experience and the chance to claim a place in the squads for the major ICC events coming up in the next couple of years.
They will have a further opportunity on the same ground on Monday, and then at Voorburg’s Westvliet ground on Tuesday and Thursday.