Ahead of the series opener, the Netherlands had never beaten Ireland at home in the ODI format and were also without a win since 2007. But on a slow track in Utrecht, the Dutchmen made up for their shoddy batting display with a superb bowling performance.
The Netherlands scalped the first five Irish wickets with only 69 on the board, before a resurgent partnership between Paul Stirling and Simi Singh appeared to take Ireland to the doorstep of victory. But an inspired decision from captain Pieter Seelaar, combined with a Man of the Match performance from Timm van der Gugten, ensured that the hosts barely scraped through with a win.
The series is on the line for Ireland, while the Netherlands will look to build on getting off the mark in the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League. The second ODI is expected to be another tightly contested and entertaining encounter.
Netherlands vs Ireland 2021: 2nd ODI Match Prediction
Most people predicted that Ireland's batting firepower, and their opponents' lack of it, would give Andrew Balbirnie's side the edge in the first ODI. And while the Irish bowling attack stood up to the challenge by bundling the Netherlands out for 195, the experienced batting lineup failed to deliver.
Former Ireland captain William Porterfield managed only 5 before being trapped in front by Logan van Beek, while Balbirnie failed to build on his encouraging performances in the Cricket Ireland Inter-Provincial Limited-Over Cup last month. The middle order, too, was brushed aside with ease by the Netherlands, who made the most of the favorable conditions in Utrecht to script a famous win.
The momentum of the series seems to have shifted in favor of the Netherlands, who still have a lot of room for improvement. Veteran opener Stephan Myburgh looked fairly comfortable at the crease before throwing away his start, as did his partner Max O'Dowd. Seelaar is due a good innings, while the lower order showed great resistance and application.
The Dutch bowling attack impressed as well. Fred Klaassen, Van Der Gugten and Seelaar all conceded three runs per over or less, with five of the seven bowlers used picking up wickets. The well-rounded unit is certainly capable enough to trouble the Irishmen, especially at a ground where accumulating runs has been notoriously difficult.
However, Ireland can be backed to make a comeback in the series. They simply have too many experienced players in the lineup who are due a good performance or two, while the Netherlands may not be able to replicate the lower-order heroics that won them the first ODI.
Much of Ireland's chances will come down to how they adjust to the conditions at the Sportpark Maarschalkerweerd, which they should be able to do. And although another clash that goes down to the wire is likely, the Men in Green should prevail and take the series to a decider.
Prediction: Ireland to win