Ireland have been beating the Netherlands for fun in recent years and yesterday they showed the world just how far they are ahead of their Associate rivals.
Against England they successfully chased more than any other team in World Cup history and they crowned their second 50-over campaign by reaching the third highest.
Captain William Porterfield admitted their bowling wasn’t up to the standard they have set themselves — although George Dockrell was only in his fourth over when he fell and dislocated his shoulder — as the Dutch scored 306, their highest one-day total against Ireland.
A record opening stand of 177 in 28 overs made light of the task and an unbeaten half century from Niall O’Brien saw Ireland home, easing up, with 14 balls to spare.
Inevitably and fittingly, it was the younger O’Brien who hit the last stroke of Ireland’s World Cup campaign.
Kevin O’Brien, Ireland’s man of the tournament if only for his match-winning century against England, hit Pieter Seelaar for a towering straight six into the stands at Eden Gardens to leave the cricket-mad Indians with an indelible memory.
It was a 20-year-old who left his mark as well with a man-of-the-match performance yesterday.
Paul Stirling had already posted Ireland’s best bowling figures, but it was his brilliant innings of 101 that sealed the individual award.
His first ball of the match was a top edge over third man for six, his second ball was driven through mid-off for four and both Stirling and Ireland never looked back.
He brought up his half century off just 25 balls — the second fastest of the tournament — with eight fours and two sixes and although his next 50 took 20 balls longer, by that stage Ireland were content with their run rate and the batsmen were doing as they pleased.
At the other end Porterfield had enjoyed a couple of lives, the first on one and again on 41, but as he admitted afterwards he was happy to watch from the other end.
“It took a lot of pressure off me and I was happy to play second fiddle at the other end watching someone smash it around and get a century off 70 balls,” said Porterfield.
“It was a great innings and I’m delighted for him.”
It was Stirling’s second ODI century and although he was mortified to hit the second ball after bringing up his landmark straight to deep mid-wicket, the team that had scored 222 from the last 25 overs to beat England were not fazed by a target of 130 in 23 yesterday. Porterfield, Ed Joyce and Gary Wilson were all caught behind, but it was destined to be Kevin O’Brien who would seal Ireland’s elusive and fully deserved second win.
Netherlands coach Peter Drinnen admitted his side were outclassed, but with three professionals to Ireland’s 13 at this World Cup the difference on and off the field was there for all the world to see.
Let’s just hope the world will see Ireland entertain at the next (10-team) World Cup in Australasia in 2015.
E Szwarczynski c N O'Brien b Johnston 1
W Barresi lbw b Stirling 44
T L W Cooper c Porterfield b Rankin 5
R Doeschate c J F Mooney b Stirling 106
A N Kervezee c K O'Brien b J Mooney 12
P W Borren c Porterfield b J F Mooney 84
A F Buurman run out 26
Bukhari run out 11
P M Seelaar run out 0
Adeel Raja run out 0
B P Loots not out 0
Extras b1 lb8 w5 nb3 17
Total (50 overs) 306
Fall: 1-7, 2-12, 3-53, 4-113, 5-234,
6-287, 7-305, 8-305, 9-305
Bowling: Rankin 9-0-74-1; Johnston 10-1-50-1; J F Mooney 10-0-59-2; Dockrell 3.4-0-15-0; Stirling 10-0-51-2; Cusack 2.2-0-15-0; K J O'Brien 5-0-33-0
W T S Porterfield c Buurman b Cooper 68
P R Stirling c Kervezee b Seelaar 101
E C Joyce c Buurman b Cooper 28
N J O'Brien not out 57
G C Wilson c Buurman b Doeschate 27
K J O'Brien not out 15
Extras lb10 w1 11
Total 4 wkts (47.4 overs) 307
Fall: 1-177, 2-179, 3-233, 4-279
Did Not Bat: A R Cusack, J F Mooney, D T Johnston, G H Dockrell, W B Rankin
Bowling: Bukhari 7-0-42-0; Adeel Raja 8-1-44-0; Loots 2-0-29-0; ten Doeschate 9-1-58-1; Seelaar 9.4-1-55-1; Borren 5-0 -38-0; Cooper 7-1-31-2