Netherlands – 315-6 in 50 overs (Vikramjit Singh 88, Scott Edwards 83, Max O’Dowd 59; Sikandar Raza 4/55, Richard Ngarava 2/40)
Zimbabwe – 319-4 in 40.5 overs (Sikandar Raza 102*, Sean Williams 91, Craig Ervine 50; Shariz Ahmad 2/62, Vikramjit Singh 1/33, Bas de Leede 1/51)
Zimbabwe won by six wickets
A brilliant record-breaking century from Sikandar Raza was the highlight of a superb victory by Zimbabwe over the Netherlands by a margin of six wickets and with almost nine overs to spare in their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier match at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.
After claiming a four-wicket haul that helped restrict the Dutch to a total of 315, Raza went on to score the fastest ever ODI hundred by a Zimbabwe batter, finishing unbeaten on 102 off 54 deliveries, as the hosts chased down the target with ease.
Zimbabwe won the toss and put their opponents in to bat, but were soon on the receiving end of the best batting the Netherlands have ever produced against them.
The aggressive opening pair of Vikramjit Singh and Max O’Dowd began the assault on the bowlers immediately, one boundary following another as they put on 120 runs for their partnership, which was not broken until the 21st over.
Then Raza, the sixth bowler tried, did the trick when he deceived O’Dowd with a faster ball that he chopped on to his stumps – he had scored 59 off 67 balls with 10 fours.
Wesley Barresi did not last long, scoring only four runs before he went for an ambitious switch hit and was bowled.
The other bowlers were unable to continue the progress as another large stand developed, the captain Scott Edwards joining Singh in a partnership that was to add another 96 runs in 16 overs.
It took Raza again to break the stand, as Singh miscued a sweep and was caught by Wellington Masakadza off the top edge for 88, scored off 111 balls with nine fours, at 223 for three in the 39th over.
Raza made it four in a row as a quicker ball bowled out the experienced Bas de Leede for four, and then Richard Ngarava, coming back to bowl with real pace, had Teja Nidamanuru caught by Craig Ervine at cover for four – 238 for five in the 42nd over.
But then came another vital partnership, as Edwards and Saqib Zulfiqar added 59 in less than seven overs.
Edwards played a brilliant innings that came to an end when Ngarava in his final spell bowled him out with a fierce yorker for 83, scored off only 72 balls with eight fours.
The score was then 297 for six after 48 overs, and the next pair scored another 18 runs off the last two overs to finish at 315 for six off their 50 overs, Zulfiqar making 34 not out off 31 balls.
This was the highest total recorded by either team in seven ODIs between them, beating Zimbabwe’s 301 for eight wickets in Bulawayo in the 2003 World Cup, while the best for the Netherlands was a victorious 291 for seven at Deventer in their own country in 2019.
It had been a superb batting performance by the Netherlands, as their innings closed at 315 for six.
Raza finished with four wickets for 55 runs, while Ngarava was the most hostile and economical bowler with two for 40 off nine overs.
In reply, after six overs Craig Ervine and Joylord Gumbie had put 19 runs on the board, and then they began to open up.
They were helped by the Dutch fielders, who missed three chances while the pair put on 80 runs in 13.3 overs for the first wicket.
Ervine did most of the scoring, playing some brilliant strokes, and reached 50 off 48 balls before he miscued a hit to mid-on and was out to a good catch, safely held this time.
Sean Williams, promoted in the order after this good start, hit out boldly almost immediately.
The score reached 142 before Gumbie was bowled off the inside edge for 40, a most valuable stabilising innings.
Wessly Madhevere did not last long, slicing a catch to short third man for 10, with the score 162 for three wickets.
This was just the signal for an increased onslaught by the rampant Zimbabwe batters, as Raza joined Williams at the crease and showed brilliant form from the start.
They added 84 runs in 10 overs, at which point Williams was on 91 and looking set to beat his own record of Monday in scoring Zimbabwe’s fastest ODI century off 70 balls.
However, he now miscued a pull and was caught at 246 for four in the 35th over, having faced only 58 balls.
The honour of beating that record fell to Raza, now joined by Ryan Burl.
In an ever-increasing blaze of strokes, Raza took the score past 300, ending the match in the 43rd over with two sixes in three balls.
The final stroke was an off-drive into the stands, a six that also brought up his own century, scored off only 58 balls.
He hit no fewer than eight sixes and six fours.
Zimbabwe’s final total was 319 for four wickets off only 40.5 overs, Burl finishing not out with 16.
Leg-spinner Shariz Ahmed took two wickets for 62 runs, with all the Netherlands bowlers going for at least six runs an over.
Zimbabwe play the West Indies next on Saturday at the same ground.