Brief scores: Pakistan 314-6 (Zaman 109, Azam 74, de Leede 2-42) beat Netherlands 298-8 (Edwards 71*, Cooper 65, Shah 3-51) by 16 runs
A run-a-ball century from Fakhar Zaman and spirited death-bowling headlined Pakistan’s narrow 16-run win over the Netherlands in the first ODI at Rotterdam despite a valiant effort with the bat, and half-centuries, from Scott Edwards, Tom Cooper and Vikramjit Singh.
Being put into bowl on a two-paced surface, the Dutch won the opening skirmishes as off-spinner Aryan Dutt and paceman Vivian Kingma bowled aggressively and economically with the new ball to restrict Pakistan to 37-1 in the powerplay, a total swelled by a late flurry of boundaries. Kingma had Imam-ul-Haq pinned in front after beating his outside edge several times in the sixth over after Dutt went unrewarded despite inducing Zaman’s edge.
Zaman and Babar Azam, the Pakistan captain, batted circumspectly as they failed to hit a boundary for 68 deliveries in a row but swiftly went into overdrive mode as they racked up 79 runs between overs 21-28. The deluge of boundaries only rubbed more salt into the wound as Kingma spilled a regulation catch at third-man to hand Zaman a reprieve in the 19th over.
It proved costly as Zaman shared a 168-run partnership with Azam and struck 12 boundaries and a six in total to bring up his seventh ODI century. Overcoming a slow start and a wasp sting, the 32-year-old was strong on the pull and through the covers as he made the Dutch pay for the reprieve, a common theme throughout the summer.
‘It hurts, doesn’t it?’, Edwards admitted after the game. ‘I feel like we are getting ourselves into positions to win games but we dropped two-three catches and guys of this quality don’t let you have a second chance. Fakhar’s innings was unreal and it cost us in the end.’
When Logan van Beek (2-89) accounted for Azam’s wicket before de Leede’s sharp fielding in the deep ran out Zaman in the space of 13 balls, the Dutch appeared to claw their way back into the game. They regularly claimed wickets to reduce the tourists to 266-6 in the 46th over but a quick fire 48-run stand between Shadab Khan (48*), who struck four fours and two sixes, and debutant Agha Salman (27*) propelled the Pakistanis to 314-6.
In response, the Dutch lost Max O’Dowd (1) and the returning Wesley Barresi (2) inside five overs, the former out LBW and the latter misjudging a good-length delivery to be bowled.
De Leede, who earlier impressed with the ball dismissing Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Nawaz, fell for a boundary-less 16 to compound the Dutch woes against searing pace. Vikramjit Singh (65 off 98) joined hands with Tom Cooper (65 off 54) as the duo shared a 97-run partnership in a bid to turn things around. However, they, too, found run-scoring difficult in the 15 overs after the powerplay as they managed to score just 52 runs between overs 10-25.
Cooper orchestrated the change in tempo as he slog swept Salman over the square leg fence and in the next over, dispatched Shadab Khan over long-on for a brace of sixes. He struck three boundaries off Mohammad Wasim in the 30th over before being caught off Haris Rauf against the run of play. Two overs later, Singh’s dismissal encapsulated his struggles against spin: plumb LBW sweeping a ball too full off the left-arm spinner Nawaz.
Enter captain Scott Edwards who continued his fine form with the bat having struck three consecutive half-centuries against England. With the asking rate above 8 an over, he forged twin 50-run stands with Teja Nidamanuru (15) and van Beek (28) to resurrect the chase.
Edwards was typically busy at the crease, proactive in approach and kept the Pakistani fielders on their toes as his calls of ‘running, running, running’ echoed around Hazelaarweg. When boundaries were difficult to come by, he ensured the scoreboard kept ticking with smart running between the wickets.
It was only fitting that he brought up his fifth fifty of the summer off a rushed single turned into a couple through overthrows in the 45th over. He was particularly strong through square off the wicket as he hit six boundaries and a six but ran out of partners as the Dutch slumped to another loss with two games left to contest.
The next game in the three-match series is on Thursday.
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