Half-centuries from Wessly Madhevere and Gary Ballance, top spells from all-rounder Sikandar Raza and Sean Williams helped Zimbabwe clinch a 2-1 series win against the Netherlands following a seven-wicket win in the third and final ODI at Harare on Saturday.
In stark contrast to the rest of the series, the final ODI between Zimbabwe and Netherlands turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Though both sides are out of contention for direct qualification for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023, this series played an important role in giving them some game time in these conditions before the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023. The Qualifier will be played from June 18 to July 9 in Zimbabwe.
Netherlands and Zimbabwe will be among the 10 teams battling for two World Cup spots at the Qualifier.
The Netherlands won the toss and chose to bat first at Harare. Despite steady contributions from their top-order batters Max ODowd (38) and Vikramjit Singh (27), who put on 67 runs for the opening wicket, the Dutch innings was stifled by regular fall of wickets. Though a sixty-run stand for the third wicket between Musa Ahmed (29) and Colin Ackermann (37) developed, Zimbabwe's part-time spinners, Sean Williams (3/41) and Sikandar Raza (2/55), did a lot of damage as the Netherlands could only reach 231/9 at the end of their allotted overs.
In response, the Chevrons got off to a positive start. The opening pair of skipper Craig Ervine (44) and Wessly Madhevere (50) were proactive, adding 96 for the first wicket.
After losing both of them to Shariz Ahmad (2/71), Zimbabwe banked on the experience of Sean Williams (43) and Gary Ballance (64*) to move ahead in the game. Their patient stand of 96 runs helped the hosts close in on an easy win. They won by seven wickets with 50 balls to spare.
This 2-1 series win helped Zimbabwe finish the Super League in 12th place, with 65 points in their kitty.
In stark contrast to the third ODI, the first two games of the three-match ODI series were closely contested thrillers. Whenever a side went slightly ahead in the game, the opponents fought back to bring it to parity.
The first ODI had Netherlands bowlers all over the Zimbabwe batting, reducing them to 98/7, before Clive Madande (74) pulled off a rescue act with help from lower-order batters. The late surge helped Chevrons set a target of 250.
The Netherlands too struggled with the bat, and were 64/5 at one stage. However, the 28-year-old Teja Nidamanuru (110*) guided the Dutch fightback with a scintillating century, which came off merely 88 balls. He got great support from Paul van Meekeren, who supplemented his bowling figures of 2/50 with a fiery 21* from nine balls with the bat, as the tourists crossed the line with one ball to spare, with three wickets still in their hands.
The shock of this defeat inspired Zimbabwe to put up a better show in the second game.
Batting first yet again, Zimbabwe's top-order gave them a decent start before leg-spinner Shariz Ahmad struck thrice to leave them at 120/5. Hereafter, Williams (77) and Madande (52) put up a 104-run stand to guide the hosts towards 271.
The Dutch top-order put up a solid show adding 166 runs for the first two wickets. Max ODowd (81) and Tom Cooper (74) made standout contributions at the top.
The match was within their grasp, with only 76 runs needed off the last 60 balls. However, a hat-trick from off-spinning all-rounder Madhevere in the 44th over, turned the game in Zimbabwe's favour.
But the Netherlands lower-order was not done and kept chipping away at the target. Eventually, they needed 19 off the last over. Ryan Klein and Fred Klaassen nearly got them through, bringing the equation down to four off one, but Klein was run out while going for the third run.
Zimbabwe won by one run. (ANI)