The Netherlands fail trial by spin to lose Zimbabwe series 2-1

The Dutch in action in Zimbabwe last year. Photo: Zimbabwe Cricket
Photo: Zimbabwe Cricket

Zimbabwe 235 for 3 (Ballance 64*, Madhevere 50, Shariz 2-71) beat Netherlands 231 for 9 (O’Dowd 38, Ackermann 37, Williams 3-41) by seven wickets

Zimbabwe cruised to a seven-wicket win with 50 balls to spare to seal the One Day International series 2-1 against the Netherlands.

Chasing a modest target of 232 in front of a near-capacity crowd at the Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe rode on half-centuries by Wessly Madhevere (50) and former England batter, Gary Ballance (64*) to comfortably win their final World Cup Super League fixture. It was also their final game before they host the World Cup Qualifier from June 18-July 9.

Having elected to bat first, the Dutch batters failed to convert their starts to a substantial score as opener Max O’Dowd top-scored with 38. He, alongside Vikramjit Singh, put on a 67-run stand for the first wicket but both fell in quick succession.

Trial by spin

Colin Ackermann was proactive against the spinners and steadied the innings with a 60-run partnership with Musa Nadeem Ahmad. Once Ahmad was dismissed in the 30th over, the Dutch middle-order once again succumbed meekly to spin to lose their next five wickets for just 63 runs.

Left-arm spinner Sean Williams, who later contributed 43 with the bat, bagged three wickets in a decisive spell to snuff out Ackermann, Scott Edwards and Wesley Barresi, who was in the side for Tom Cooper. Off spinner Sikandar Raza sent back Singh and Teja Nidamanuru despite conceding 55 runs.

With wickets tumbling against spin, the run-rate slowed down and boundaries dried up but Shariz Ahmad, who ended the series as the leading wicket-taker, scraped through with Aryan Dutt to help post 231-9.

The total did not prove to be enough as the hosts chased it down with little discomfort in front of a raucous crowd which cheered every run scored and wicket taken.

Madhevere and Zimbabwean captain Craig Ervine (44) laid a solid foundation for the chase with a 96-run partnership but fell nine balls apart to Shariz Ahmad’s leg-spin. By the time Fred Klaassen struck to end another 96-run stand between Ballance and player-of-the-series Williams, the result was a foregone conclusion with the hosts only 36 runs adrift.

Raza and Ballance, who was strong through the covers for his second ODI half-century in Zimbabwean threads, ensured there were no further blemishes to ice the chase in the 42nd over.

‘We thought (the target) was around the mark but Zimbabwe obviously batted well and never let us in,’ Edwards said after the game.

‘A bit disappointed that we couldn’t close out the series in the second game. It was one of those games that we should have won. In saying that, the first game where we fought back, we probably shouldn’t have won that one.’

Dutch positives aplenty

In addition to Teja Nidamanuru’s odds-defying century in the first game, Shariz Ahmad, too, enjoyed a breakthrough series with eight wickets, three more than the second-placed Raza.

‘I think we performed pretty well across all three games,’ Edwards added. ‘There’s a few things that we have to fix up but it’s great practice before the Qualifiers. Some of the guys have stood up and we are looking forward to where we can go with this group.’

The Netherlands will now play South Africa on March 31 and April 2 in what will be their final fixtures of the Super League.

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