When Elton Chigumbura fired a half-century to ensure Zimbabwe's leap to the top of Group B with a comfortable five-wicket victory over UAE early in the afternoon, the following game between Ireland and the Netherlands turned into a knockout bout for both sides at the Sylhet Cricket Stadium.
But there were not many who had given the Dutch a chance because the equation was not that straightforward for them. And when Ireland put up a total of 189 runs on the board, the fates of Zimbabwe and the Netherlands seemed to be already written on the wall. To overtake Zimbabwe for the top spot on net run-rate, the Dutch needed to overhaul the target in 14.2 overs which seemed out of bounds for the Associate nation.
But miracle still happens in the game of cricket and yesterday was one such day that saw wonderful and magical batting from the Netherlands batsmen, who smashed as many as 19 sixes and 12 boundaries to pull off a stunning six-wicket victory by reaching the target in 13.5 overs which will be remembered as one of the best chases in Twenty20s.
Stephan Myburgh laid the foundation and gave Netherlands the belief that they could make it with an electrifying half-century and then Wesley Barresi put the perfect finishing during his 22-ball 40 that featured three fours and as many sixes. Barresi put pacer Tim Murtagh to the sword to make it possible in the 14th over as the right-hander took no run from the first ball, but smashed a six and a four in the next two deliveries; the next was a dot ball and a massive six over midwicket came off the fifth ball to ensure their qualification.
Myburgh was adjudged the player-of-the-match for his 23-ball 63 that contained four fours and seven sixes and his fifty came off only 17 balls. Barresi might have finished it off for them, but it was Tom Cooper who in the middle, created the opportunity by hitting six sixes and a boundary in his 15-ball 45.
Credit should also go to captain Peter Borren as his 91-run opening partnership with Myburgh in 5.6 overs laid the foundation for his side. Borren contributed 31 off 15 balls with four fours and two sixes. The day will definitely haunt the Irish bowlers for long as they got totally lost in the frenzy.
The Irish innings was built around the innings of William Porterfield (47), Andrew Poynter (57) and Kevin O'Brien (42 not out).
Earlier in a must-win match, Zimbabwe found themselves in a spot of bother more than once against the UAE, but Elton Chigumbura belted a quickfire 53 from number six to chase down UAE's total of 116 in 13.4 overs after their bowlers did a good job. But all those efforts were not good enough for them to keep their pride as a Test nation intact.