Netherlands 270 for 2 (Barresi 120, Cooper 109*) beat Namibia 269 for 8 (van der Westhuizen 54, Erasmus 52, van der Merwe 3-54) by eight wickets
Nearly four years after losing ODI status on a disastrous day in Lincoln, New Zealand, Netherlands won it back in Dubai. A 236-run second-wicket stand between Wesley Barresi and Ben Cooper smothered the Namibia bowling attack as the Netherlands coasted to an eight wicket win with 53 balls to spare at the ICC Academy Oval 2.
Just over an hour later on the adjacent ICC Academy Oval 1, Hong Kong secured a tense 23-run win over Papua New Guinea to guarantee the Dutch the WCL Championship title and a spot in the 13-team ODI League beginning in 2020. The pair of results put Netherlands four points clear of PNG and three ahead of Scotland with one match remaining.
The duo came together in the first over of their chase of Namibia’s 269 after Stephan Myburgh drove a sharp catch to extra cover off JJ Smit. Namibia stayed disciplined for the next several overs. But when Barresi swept and cut legspinner Colin Peake for three consecutive boundaries to end the sixth over, it set the tone for two hours of almost uninterrupted leather-chasing for Namibia in the field.
Barresi continued to milk boundaries mostly square of the wicket and ended with 11 fours and a six in his 127-ball 120 before his innings ended with a tired gallop down the wicket to Bernard Scholtz. Cooper filled up the gaps in Barresi’s wagonwheel with a clinic in straight driving. When Namibia’s medium pacers dropped short, he didn’t hesitate to pull behind square for more boundaries, collecting 15 fours and two sixes in his unbeaten 109.
When Barresi and Cooper were together, they created history with the highest partnership in the six-year history of the WCL Championship, breaking the previous mark of 197 made by Babar Hayat and Anshuman Rath against Netherlands in January. It was on that tour that Cooper teamed with Pieter Seelaar for another epic record-breaking stand, as they battled for the final two and a half sessions of their Intercontinental Cup match in a 288-run sixth-wicket partnership to secure a memorable draw. The Barresi-Cooper stand was just six short of the all-time Netherlands List A record of 242, set by Bas Zuiderant and Daan van Bunge against Denmark at the 2005 ICC Trophy.
Namibia had produced a dogged effort after being sent in at the toss with Louis van der Westhuizen and Gerhard Erasmus making half-centuries while JP Kotze contributed 48 from No. 6. Yet all three fell at key junctures to relax any pressure that was building on the Dutch.
Roelof van der Merwe also played a pivotal role to rein in the Namibia scoring-rate, attacking the stumps with a disciplined line to claim three wickets. Zane Green was trapped in front for his first victim and a few overs later Craig Williams was bowled for 13. Van der Westhuizen chopped onto his stumps in the following over and from there Namibia’s hopes of a 300 total were dashed.
Sarel Burger and Jan Frylinck provided a strong surge in the final five overs as Netherlands fielding became ragged. They dropped five chances in all and Timm van der Gugten slammed the stumps in frustration after the final ball of the innings.
But after the dominant stand by Barresi and Cooper, followed by Papua New Guinea’s collapse against Hong Kong, the Dutchmen will be flying into the top flight of one-day cricket all over again.