Below par Ireland dispatched by Dutch as they search for form
It was in January 2017 that Ireland last won back-to-back T20 internationals, and Netherlands extended that sequence for at least another month after their six wickets victory at Malahide.
An unbeaten 91 by Tom Cooper saw the Dutch past Ireland's 181-7 with five balls to spare, but Ireland know they should have left their victors a tougher chase.
After 12 overs, Ireland had 128 on the board, but the third wicket of Andrew Balbirnie was to prove decisive. In the remaining eight overs, the run rate came down to eight an over, and that was thanks to Harry Tector and Lorcan Tucker scoring 21 from the final two overs.
While Tector, in only his second international, was hitting four boundaries from 16 balls, only one came at the other end from 30 deliveries.
Captain Gary Wilson admitted they were probably around 10 runs below par and, although Mark Adair took a wicket with the first ball of the Dutch innings, Cooper and Max O'Dowd put on 144 for the second wicket inside 15 overs, equalling Netherlands' record partnership.
George Dockrell, one of two changes to the team which beat Scotland on Tuesday, set up an interesting finish with two wickets in three balls, and then had captain Pieter Seelaar caught on the cover boundary in the 18th over with 23 still needed.
But Cooper hit the last ball of the over for four and new batsman Scott Edwards then hit Stuart Thompson for three successive fours in the penultimate over to settle the points, which still leaves Ireland top of the table but only on net run rate from the Dutch, who play their final game against Scotland today.
Ireland have the day off before facing the Scots in the final game of the series tomorrow and it is almost certainly without Paul Stirling, who again played no part because of a calf strain.
Gareth Delany, after his maiden half century on Tuesday, was first out yesterday, pulled straight to deep square, and Kevin O'Brien looked good, hitting three fours and two sixes in his 16 balls, but it was Andrew Balbirnie (two fours and three sixes) and Tector (six fours and two sixes) who again looked the class acts, their partnership full of improvised strokes, worth 79 in just 45 balls.
But after Balbirnie was caught at fine leg, Wilson used up 14 balls scoring eight, Mark Adair was bowled fourth ball and it was left to Tucker to hit that solitary boundary in the final over.
Adair, still easing back to full fitness, bowled only two overs, and Thompson, having conceded 19 off his third over, was the surprise choice for the 19th over. Garth Delany was hit for four sixes and Craig Young, in for Shane Getkate, conceded two runs in his second over and 32 off his other two. David Delany did everything but take a wicket.
K O'Brien c Cooper b Glover 30 (16)
G Delany c Snater b Glover 12 (9)
A Balbirnie c Boissevain b Seelaar 45 (26)
H Tector c Cooper b Snater 60 (40)
G Wilson c Glover b Boissevain 8 (14)
M Adair b Snater 1 (4)
L Tucker run out 12 (12)
S Thompson not out 1 (1)
Extras (1b 2lb 7w 2nb) 12
Total (7 wkts, 20 overs) 181
Did not bat: G Dockrell, D Delany, C Young
Fall: 1-24 2-49 3-128 4-145 5-152 6-178 7-181
Bowling: P Boissevain 4-0-33-1, F Klaassen 4-0-46-0, B Glover 4-0-19-2, S Snater 4-0-41-2, P Seelaar 3-0-27-1, B de Leede 1-0-12-0
T Visee b Adair 0 (1)
M O'Dowd c Young b Dockrell 69 (45)
B Cooper not out 91 (56)
T Staal b Dockrell 0
P Seelaar c Balbirnie b Dockrell 4 (6)
S Edwards not out 13
Extras (1lb 5w) 6
Total (4 wkts, 19.1 overs) 183
Fall: 1-0 2-144 3-144 4-159
Bowling: M Adair 2-0-13-1, S Thompson 4-0-48-0, C Young 3-0-34-0, G Delany 3-0-40-0, D Delany 4-0-24-0, G Dockrell 3.1-0-23-3
Netherlands won by 6 wickets