Brief scores: Netherlands 168 for 3 (O’Dowd 90, de Leede 41*, Lamichhane 2-60) beat Nepal 167 (Paudel 33, van Beek 4-24, Vikramjit 2-20) by seven wickets
Career-best performances from Logan van Beek (4-24) and Max O’Dowd (90 off 75 balls) powered the Netherlands through to the Super Sixes of the World Cup Qualifiers with a seven-wicket win over Nepal in Harare.
Nepal’s loss also confirmed hosts Zimbabwe and the West Indies as the other teams to progress from Group A.
With a match still to play against the West Indies on Monday, the Dutch moved a step closer to ensuring their first 50-over World Cup appearance since 2011, but they will need to get past Sri Lanka and two of Scotland, Oman and Ireland in the Super Sixes.
On a used pitch, an unchanged Netherlands side opted to bowl first and used the short-ball strategy to good effect with as many as seven Nepali wickets falling to the ploy.
Captain Rohit Paudel top scored with 33 as Nepal lost wickets regularly sliding from 46-1 to 91-5 and eventually bowled out for 167 in 44.3 overs.
Van Beek breakthrough
Van Beek made the first breakthrough as wicket-keeper Aasif Sheikh chopped an out swinger onto his stumps before Vikram Singh found extra bounce to dismiss in-form Kushal Bhurtel, with scores of 101 and 99 against Oman and Zimbabwe.
Barring Paudel and a late resistance from Sandeep Lamichhane (27), Nepal’s batters failed to make an impact and perished meekly against short balls either skying them or edging through to keeper Scott Edwards.
Van Beek, who returned after an opening spell of 1-10 from 5 overs to finish with figures of 4-24, said: “The short-ball strategy was us reading the game a little more. After the first 10-15 overs, as a seamer, you have to change things up a little bit. Some balls were stopping in the pitch while others were simply going through which meant the bounce was two-paced.”
Bas de Leede and Singh snared two wickets apiece as spinners Aryan Dutt and Clayton Floyd picked one each.
For the second time in this tournament, Singh and O’Dowd put up a strong opening stand of 86 in 13 overs to put Nepal behind the eight-ball.
O’Dowd was effective sweeping the spinners, which fetched him three fours and two sixes, in a knock of 90. He fell ten runs short of his maiden ODI century, missing a straight ball from the 17-year-old seamer Gulshan Jha to be bowled just 10 runs away from victory.
“Disappointed not to score a century but for me, I want to contribute to match-winning games, so 90 in a winning cause is enough,” O’Dowd said after the match.
“I was looking to be aggressive and play my game. I didn’t want to let the middle order get in and the game get tricky. For me it was about getting my head as close to the ball as possible and not leading in with my front foot. Fair credit to Scotty [Edwards], he taught me how to sweep two months leading up to this tournament.”
De Leede finally found his feet in the tournament with an unbeaten 41, a knock which featured six boundaries, and closed out the chase with 137 balls to spare.
The Netherlands next take on the West Indies, who lost a thriller to Zimbabwe by 35 runs, on Monday. All matches are broadcast on Sky Sports Mix (in the UK) and Yupp TV (in continental Europe).
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