Roelof van der Merwe and Brandon Glover help Netherlands defend title
Netherlands 134 for 3 (Cooper 41, ten Doeschate 34*, Ackermann 29*) beat Papua New Guinea 128 for 8 (Siaka 39, Bau 29, Kila 27*, Glover 3-24) by seven wickets
The upstart Papua New Guinea juggernaut finally ran out of steam on Saturday night at Dubai International Stadium as the defending co-champions Netherlands ran roughshod over the Barramundis batting order with a wondrous bowling performance to set up a seven-wicket win, repeating as champions of the T20 World Cup Qualifier in what may be the final edition of the tournament. Roelof van der Merwe's twin strikes early in the contest were backed up by Brandon Glover's searing spell, which brought a sluggish wicket to life as he claimed three wickets.
While there was plenty contributed by the next generation of Dutch stars like Glover, the old guard gave a vintage performance as well to remind everyone of their contributions past and present. After Ben Cooper set the table with 41 off 33 balls to start the chase, Ryan ten Doeschate flicked a trio of sixes, including the match-clincher to take Netherlands across the line with an unbeaten 34 off 23 balls.
PNG captain Assad Vala won the toss and chose to bat on the same strip that had produced low-scoring affairs in both semifinals and the third place match earlier in the day. Whereas Netherlands had opened the bowling with pace for virtually the entire tournament, they gave the new ball to van der Merwe to start the match and it paid off when Tony Ura was given lbw sweeping off the fifth ball of the match.
Another blow was struck in the fifth when Vala was turned back by Lega Siaka for a tight call at short fine leg as Tobias Visee pinged the striker's stumps with a direct hit with Vala's bat on the line. Charles Amini skied a drive off Timm van der Gugten in the sixth, picking out one of the two boundary riders in the powerplay at long-off to make it 30 for 3 and from there PNG faced an uphill battle the rest of the innings to scramble together a competitive score.
Siaka and Sese Bau grinded out a 43-run partnership for the fourth wicket, but at a modest pace having reached the halfway stage at 52 for 3. The stand finally ended when Siaka tried to up the tempo driving at a full ball from van der Merwe but instead was bowled for 39 in the 13th.
Glover commenced his haul in the 14th, hustling Kiplin Doriga on an attempted slash to third man that resulted in a glove through to Scott Edwards. PNG's last realistic hope of a counterattack was pinned to Norman Vanua, who had produced a pair of stirring knocks against Kenya and Namibia in his last two innings to rally the lower order. But he managed just 5 before Glover beat him for pace slogging across the line to bowl him at the start of the 18th. Bau gloved a hook through to Edwards to end the over leaving PNG 102 for 7. A late charge from Jason Kila, who flicked a pair of sixes over the leg side off van Meekeren as part of a 22-run 20th, gave PNG a faint glimmer of hope heading into Netherlands' reply.
Visee struck two fours, but couldn't last the opening over before he skied a drive off Nosaina Pokana to Vanua at mid-off. Max O'Dowd joined Ben Cooper for a 37-run stand to get the innings back on course before Vala brought himself on in the eighth and struck first ball, getting O'Dowd to flick loosely to Amini at midwicket as part of a wicket maiden. Cooper nullified the strike by charging Amini twice to drive for six in the ensuing overs. The latter came as part of a 13-run 11th that brought the required run rate under a run a ball.
Cooper eventually fell pulling Damien Ravu to deep square leg in the 13th, but PNG's bowling talisman Vanua could not find a breakthrough at the other end. Ten Doeschate arrived and took charge in due time, flicking Ravu for six before a ferocious pull off Pokana for six more in the 17th. With ten Doeschate humming, Ackermann was content pushing singles to get the Essex veteran as much strike as possible and he ended the match in elegant style with a wristy six over cow corner on the final ball of the 19th. It is Netherlands' second title at the T20 World Cup Qualifier after the rained out final at Malahide in 2015 resulted in them sharing the trophy with Scotland.
At the post-match presentation, Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus was named Player of the Tournament for his consistent contributions across the event. He finished second in the tournament in runs with 268 runs at an average of 38.28 including three half-centuries. He tied for second in the tournament alongside Scotland's George Munsey with 11 sixes, behind only Namibia team-mate JJ Smit's 14. He was also brilliant in the field taking five catches, including a highlight-reel one-handed effort against PNG in Friday's semi-final. He is the second Namibian to win the Player of the Tournament award at the T20 World Cup Qualifier following Raymond van Schoor in 2012.