Madande heroics in vain as Netherlands clinch see-saw thriller
Zimbabwe – 249 all out in 47.3 overs (Clive Madande 74, Richard Ngarava 35, Wellington Masakadza 34; Fred Klaassen 3/41, Paul van Meekeren 2/50, Vikramjit Singh 1/11)
Netherlands – 255-7 in 49.5 overs (Teja Nidamanuru 110*, Colin Ackermann 50, Shariz Ahmad 30; Wellington Masakadza 3/36, Richard Ngarava 2/44, Brad Evans 1/30)
Netherlands won by three wickets
In a thrilling match that swung wildly either way, Teja Nidamanuru scored an amazing 110 not out against the odds to lead the Netherlands to a three-wicket victory over Zimbabwe with just one ball remaining in the first ODI at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.
Both sides made remarkable recoveries from poor starts, but in the end the home side’s death bowling failed badly and some clumsy fielding made it possible for the tourists to win in dramatic fashion.
The Netherlands won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat on a pitch that gave more bounce early on than is usual at Harare Sports Club.
Paul van Meekeren in particular was able to exploit this and the hosts were soon deep in trouble.
Craig Ervine opened the batting with Innocent Kaia and in the third over, from Fred Klaassen, he drove a fine four and then edged a catch to the keeper next ball.
In the following over, Gary Ballance followed suit, caught at backward point off a lifting ball from van Meekeren immediately after getting off the mark with a four.
Innocent Kaia also failed to handle a lifting ball from van Meekeren, caught in the slips for 12, and the score was 31 for three in the eighth over.
Wessly Madhevere looked the most comfortable of the batters at this stage, moving to 17 off 18 balls, before he was unfortunately out to perhaps cricket’s most unfair law.
Sikandar Raza drove a delivery from Brandon Glover powerfully straight down the pitch, and the ball glanced off the bowler’s hand straight on to the stumps at the bowler’s end, while Madhevere was doing his job by backing up out of his crease – 48 for four.
The Zimbabwe innings continued to decline: Ryan Burl caught at the wicket for 10, Raza brilliantly caught in the deep off a skyed pull for 22 and Brad Evans bowled for three – another unlucky dismissal, as he freakishly played a leg-side delivery on to his stumps off his glove.
The home side seemed to be heading for defeat with the score now 98 for seven in the 21st over.
Then came the magnificent fightback.
Clive Madande was joined at the crease by Wellington Masakadza and the pair, with tremendous determination, settled in to turn the match around.
Playing with the confidence of veterans, they added 70 runs in 17 overs before Masakadza was stranded in mid-pitch and run out having played a fine innings of 34 off 50 balls.
At 168 for eight in the 38th over, Zimbabwe were at least still in the match with a chance.
Madande continued to bat superbly, and had unexpected help from the number 10, Richard Ngarava.
Hitting two sixes and three fours, Ngarava gave the innings the impetus it needed with 35 runs off 27 balls – 234 for nine in the 46th over.
When he was finally well caught by the Netherlands captain and wicket-keeper, Scott Edwards, off a skyer, Madande had made 74 off 98 balls, with six fours, and done most to save his side from disaster.
Blessing Muzarabani finished with eight not out after a couple of lusty blows, and the innings ended in the 48th over at 249.
Madande and his partners had spoiled the bowling figures of the Netherlands pacemen: Klaassen finished with three for 41 and van Meekeren two for 50.
Now it was the turn of Zimbabwe’s bowlers, and Ngarava soon made his mark.
He had Vikramjot Singh (8) and Tom Cooper (1) both caught at the wicket to reduce the tourists to 19 for two in the seventh over.
There was a recovery as Colin Ackermann joined Max O’Dowd and they took the score to 48 before O’Dowd (20) pulled a catch off Masakadza straight to Evans at midwicket.
Evans then trapped Musa Ahmed lbw without scoring and when Masakadza had Edwards out lbw for seven Zimbabwe were right on top, the Netherlands having lost five wickets for 64.
Teja Nidamanuru proved to be a good partner for a while with Ackermann, and the stand was beginning to look dangerous when Masakadza did the trick again, bowling Ackermann for 50 as he came down to him at 110 for six.
Shariz Ahmad was another stubborn player who settled into a good partnership with Nidamanuru, but well as they batted the required run rate rose steadily.
After 40 overs the score was 153 for six, and 97 runs were needed off the last 10.
Just when victory for the Netherlands looked unlikely, this pair began to take bolder measures, and Burl went for 17 runs in an over, including two sixes from Nidamanuru.
Two difficult chances were missed in the 45th over, after which the target was down to 46 in the last five overs.
In the 47th over came the breakthrough that Zimbabwe thought they needed, as a mix-up between the two batters led to Ahmad being run out for 30, scored off 37 balls, and at 220 for seven the hosts looked to be on top again.
But the next man in was van Meekeren, and he too was to prove superb with the bat in a crisis.
The Netherlands needed 29 to win from the last three overs, and Ngarava’s next over brought 10 runs, including a four by both batters.
It was the 49th over, bowled by Muzarabani, that finally cost Zimbabwe the match.
Nidamanuru hit a six and a single, and then van Meekeren got a four and two twos, leaving only four runs to be scored from the final over.
Evans had a thankless task for the final over, which the batsmen could take at their leisure, scoring three singles before van Meekeren hit the penultimate delivery for six to win the match.
Van Meekeren, a tail-ender, had managed 21 not out off nine balls, while Nidamanuru’s great innings had brought 110 runs off 96 balls with three sixes and nine fours.
Ngarava finished with two wickets for 44, but Masakadza bowled consistently the best, with three for 36 in his 10 overs.
Zimbabwe and the Netherlands will meet in the second ODI at the same venue on Thursday.