Ireland. © ICC

Eimear Richardson made a successful return to international cricket, headlining Ireland’s rout of Netherlands by 79 runs in the opening match of the Euro Asia Women’s T20I series at Salland Cricket Club in Deventer on Thursday (August 8). Richardson starred with the bat and ball scoring a breezy half-century before returning to pick up two wickets.

In pursuit of 170, Netherlands’ chase never really kicked off as they lost early wickets and struggled to get ahead of the run-rate. Richardson played the lead role denting the innings early when she removed Robine Rijke in the third over. The hosts never really recovered from the early blow as they crawled their way to 24 in the first power play. The impetus was missing and credit to Ireland bowlers who maintained discipline through the innings – Orla Prendergast, Louise Little and Celeste Raack kept a tight leash on the scoring.

The only shining light for Netherlands was Babette de Leede who top scored with 50. However, she failed to get any support from the rest of the batting line-up as only one partnership went past 30. Juliet Post (18) was the only other batter to register double figures which meant Netherlands could only manage a meagre total of 90 for 7 in their allotted 20 overs.

For Ireland, Raack, Prendergast and Richardson bagged two wickets each.

Earlier in the day, Netherlands won the toss and elected to bowl. Their decision to field first didn’t go as per plan as Ireland got off to a blistering start scoring 55 runs for the loss of only one wicket. The fall of Prendergast (9) in the second over didn’t hamper the run-scoring whatsoever as Leah Paul and Gaby Lewis stitched together a 35-run partnership which laid the foundation. The runs came thick and fast as Lewis raced to a 16-ball 26. The third over bowled by Iris Zwilling yielded 15 runs.

Just as Ireland were looking to consolidate the innings Netherlands came back into the match by picking the wickets of Lewis, Shauna Kavanagh and Laura Delaney in quick succession to reduce Ireland to 63 for 4 in the ninth over. The visitors needed one big innings from someone to push the score beyond 160 and they found their hero in Richardson who scored 63 runs in just 41 balls. Richardson and Paul stitched together a match-winning 78 run stand for the fifth wicket. Paul was happy to play second fiddle with a contribution of 26 off 35 deliveries.

In the process Richardson top scored for Ireland in a knock that was studded with 11 fours and guided the visitors to  a more than competitive total of 169 for 5.

Annemjin van Buege was the pick of the bowlers for Netherlands with figures of 2 for 19. The other bowlers endured a torrid time – Zwilling suffered the most going for 46 runs in her quota  of four overs.

Brief Scores: Ireland 169/5 in 20 overs (Eimear Richardson 63*, Gaby Lewis 26; Annemjin van Beuge 2-19) beat Netherlands 90/7 in 20 overs (Babette de Leede 50; Celeste Raack 2-11, E Richardson 2-13) by 79 runs.