The Netherlands beat Ireland in women's one day international when the 50-over phase of the European Championship got under way in Utrecht on Wednesday, winning a hard-fought match by two wickets with two overs to spare.
Laura Brouwers got the match underway by bowling Rebecca Rolfe off the very first ball after Helmien Rambaldo won the toss, and that set the tone for a game in which the bowlers were always in command. Kim Garth gave Ireland a reasonably steady start, making 20 and sharing a third-wicket stand of 38 ? the best of the innings ? with Laura Delany, but the Dutch attack maintained the pressure throughout, and scoring was never easy.
Spinner Esther Lanser was especially well controlled, and her ten-over spell produced just 13 runs and included four maidens, and Brouwers finished with one for 14 from nine overs, three of them in a second spell in which she conceded a single wide.
The Irish batters were rarely able to escape their shackles, although Amy Kenealy showed a greater degree of enterprise in making an undefeated 32-ball 21, including one of only three boundaries in the innings. The last three wickets fell to run-outs, however, and the innings closed on 116 off 47.5 overs.
The Dutch found runs equally hard to come by, but a patient knock of 38 from skipper Rambaldo, made from 94 deliveries, appeared to lay the foundation for a fairly comfortable victory. She received support from Carolien Salomons in a second-wicket partnership of 41 and then Lanser helped her take the total to 80 for two, and the Netherlands seemed to be almost home.
But Kenealy had other ideas, removing Lanser, Rambaldo and Violet Wattenberg in the space of six deliveries to leave the Dutch reeling on 82 for five. Then 13-year-old leg-spinner Elena Tice took a hand with the wickets of Carlijn de Groot and Denise Hannema, and at 92 for seven it seemed as if the game had swung back Ireland's way.
Esther de Lange held firm, however, and the Irish bowlers were unable to match the accuracy of their opponents, conceding a total of no fewer than 28 wides. Brouwers ran herself out with seven still needed, but Leonie Bennett joined De Lange and these two saw their side through to an historic victory.
Kenealy finished with three for 17 and Tice two for 34, with Garth taking one for 12 in her ten overs.
It had been a tough battle in conditions in which batting was never easy, and it gives the hosts a good chance of adding the 50-over championship to the Twenty20 title they claimed on Monday.
Brief scores from today's matches:
Kampong CC: Ireland 116, 47.5 overs
Netherlands 117-8, 48 overs (H Rambaldo 38; I Kenealy 3-17)
Netherlands won by two wickets
ICC European Women's Championship table
18 August: Ireland v Scotland (Kampong, 1100)
19 August: Scotland v Netherlands (Kampong, 1100)