The Netherlands team are all smiles after winning the World T20 qualifiers title on Saturday night. Image Credit: Courtesy: ICC

Dubai: Papua New Guinea (PNG) won the hearts despite losing to defending champions Netherlands by seven wickets in the final of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifiers at the Dubai International Stadium on Saturday night.

The Dutch team, through a clinical bowling performance from Brandon Glover, who picked up three wickets and backed by Roelof van der Merwe and Timm van der Gugten (two wickets each) destroyed PNG’s hopes of winning the title by restricting them to 128 for eight wickets. Netherlands then raced to victory with six balls to spare.

PNG had put on a spirited show under the captaincy of Asad Vala throughout the tournament and became the first team to qualify for the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

It was a culmination of this team’s hard work which began from 2007 to qualify for the T20 World Cup.

So brilliant was Vala’s inspiring captaincy that ICC named him as the captain of the official team of the tournament.

Speaking after losing the final, Vala hailed his players for carrying the team to final: “We made our country really proud the way we played all throughout the tournament, it wasn’t to be today but the way we fought all throughout the game. I was really happy.”

Vala admitted that the tournament was a learning experience for them. “Our batting wasn’t up to scratch at this level in the final few games and we’ve got to do a lot to work to get it where we want to be,” he said, going on to hail Netherlands batsmen too.

“The way Colin Ackermann (29 n.o) and Ryan ten Doeschate (34 n.o) played, they showed us how to bat and it’s something we can learn from,” he said.

PNG will now play in the T20 World Cup 2020 first round group match in Group A along with Sri Lanka, Ireland and Oman while Netherlands will play in the Group B alongside Bangladesh, Namibia and Scotland.

Four teams from the first round will advance to the Super-12s of T20 World Cup, joining Afghanistan, Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa and the West Indies.”

Netherlands skipper Pieter Seelaar is delighted that his players rose to occasion and proved their critics wrong.

Asad Valla, captain of Papua New Guinea team. Image Credit: Source: ICC

“I’m very pleased and very proud of this team. Before we came here we struggled a little bit in Oman (Pentangular Series) and there were a lot of words said about it but I think we’ve come here and produced some very good cricket.”

The ‘official’ team of the tournament is made up of the top performers in the tournament. Namibia’s skipper Gerhard Erasmus was adjudged the Player of the Tournament.

Team of the tournament: Jatinder Singh (Oman), Paul Stirling (Ireland), Asad Vala (PNG) (Captain), Gerhard Erasmus (Namibia) (Vice-Captain) Ryan ten Doeschate (Netherlands), Matt Cross (Scotland) (WK), JJ Smit (Namibia), Roelef van der Merwe (Netherlands), Norman Vanua (PNG), Paul van Meekeren (Netherlands), Bilal Khan (Oman). 12th man: Bernard Scholtz (Namibia).

Brief Scores (Final): Netherlands bt PNG by 7 wkts. PNG 128 for 8 in 20 overs (Lega Siaka 36, Sese Bau 29, Jason Kila 27n.o; Brandon Glover 3 for 24, Roelof van der Merwe 2 for 15, Timm van der Gugten 2 for 18) Netherlands 134 for 3 in 19 overs (Ben Cooper 41, Colin Ackermann 29n.o, Ryan ten Doeschate 28n.o) Man of the final: Brandon Glover.