This edition of the T20 World Cup has seen quite a few surprises over the last couple of weeks, but on Sunday, The Netherlands pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the tournament by beating South Africa by 13 runs and knocking it out of the tournament.
The South African team walked into the Adelaide Oval buoyed with confidence as it needed just a win to ease into the semifinals. But Temba Bavuma’s decision to bowl first backfired as his star-studded fast bowling unit failed to make an impact and the Dutch openers Stephan Myburgh (37 from 30 balls) and Max O’Dowd (29 from 31) featured in a 58-run partnership.
Riding on the openers’ momentum push, The Netherlands posted 158-4 before its bowlers managed to hold South Africa to 145-8.
On a bright and sunny morning, it was a determined effort by the Netherlands players from the beginning. The openers took a bit of time to settle in against Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell and then the seasoned Myburgh took on the speedsters with a string of boundaries in the first six overs of PowerPlay. And as the Dutch openers took charge of the game, offie Aiden Markram broke the 58-run opening stand with the wicket of the left-handed Myburgh as he tried to slog sweep, but ended up being caught at deep mid-wicket.
O’Dowd and Tom Cooper, who scored 35, rebuilt the innings. The latter then sent Keshav Maharaj over deep backward point for a six, but the left-arm spinner claimed the wicket of O’Dowd two balls later. He also dismissed Cooper a little later after the batter top-edged a ball to offer a catch to Quinton de Kock.
Just when it looked South Africa was slowly returning into the game, a whirlwind innings by Colin Ackermann (41 n.o., 26b, 3×4, 2×6) steered the Netherlands to a competitive total. He slammed three fours and two sixes and added 31 runs with skipper Scott Edwards to help the team amass 31 runs from the final two overs, which eventually proved fatal for South Africa.
As the fans from Pakistan and Bangladesh cheered for The Netherlands, the bowlers started with zeal and determination and Fred Klaasen (two for 20) managed to dismiss De Kock in the fourth ball of his second over.
And just before the PowerPlay ended, Paul van Meekeren cleaned up captain Bavuma as South Africa struggled at 39 for two in six overs.
Rilee Rossouw tried to regroup, hitting van der Merwe for a couple of fours before falling to Brandon Glover (three for nine). Needing 74 runs from 48 deliveries, South Africa had to accelerate and Aiden Markram hit a four in the second ball of the 12th over, bowled by Klaasen, but an excellent catch at short cover by Myburgh in the next delivery saw Markram walking back to the dugout.
Hopes were pinned on David Miller, who returned to the team after missing out on the last game due to injury. But he played a run-a-ball 17 before Van der Merwe took a stunning catch off Glover. Three deliveries later, Parnell was removed by Glover, turning things around for the Dutch.
In the final over, South Africa needed 26 runs to win. Bas de Leede bowled a couple of extras before dismissing Keshav Maharaj and eventually earning a 13-run win.
This was Netherlands first win against South Africa across all formats. While the Bangladesh and Pakistan fans celebrated The Netherlands’ victory as it helped both the teams stay alive for a spot in the semifinals, this defeat by South Africa also assured India of a spot in the semifinals.
The last time Netherlands faced South Africa in a T20I fixture, back in 2014, it came tantalisingly close to winning the game. After restricting South Africa to 145-9, the Dutch team fell short by just six runs in a World T20 outing in Chittagong on that March evening. But eight-and-a-half years later, when the two teams met again, the Dutch took their sweet revenge.