The Sunday Mail
LOOKING back at it, the first One Day International between Zimbabwe and the Netherlands played at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday was more entertaining than it had any right to be.
With both teams out of the reckoning for the eight automatic slots for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup by virtue of being the bottom-placed teams on the ICC Super League table, there was little incentive for the two sides in terms of points.
But, cricket being cricket, the two nations combined to put on a rather entertaining game, ultimately won by the Dutch by three wickets to take a one-nil lead in the three-match series.
The Netherlands won the toss and elected to field first.
The move paid dividends almost immediately as the hosts’ top order once again failed to come to the party. Tumble
There was some anticipation in the lead-up to the game as the match afforded Chevrons head coach Dave Houghton the chance to field his best possible starting XI.
This follows the returns of Blessing Muzarabani, Sean Williams, Gray Ballance, Ryan Burl and Sikandar Raza.
Unfortunately, only the quartet of Ballance, Burl, Muzarabani and Raza made the team.
Their presence failed to make the desired impact as Zimbabwe soon found themselves in a spot of bother as they were seven wickets down with only 98 runs on the board inside the first 20 overs.
It took the intervention of Zimbabwe’s tail, led by a brilliant half-century from Clive Madande and cameos by Wellington Masakadza (34) and Richard Ngarava (33) to bring some respectability to the Chevrons 249 all-out total.
Madande top-scored for the Chevrons with 74 runs off 98 balls and starred in two crucial partnerships with Zimbabwe’s bottom order.
The first was an eighth-wicket partnership alongside Masakadza that saw the pair blast 70 runs off 99 balls and moved Zimbabwe from the precarious position of 98 for seven to 168 for eight.
Madande then shared a 66-run stand with Ngarava off 51 balls.
In the end, Zimbabwe could only amass 249 before they were bowled out.
The total, while not ideal, gave the Zimbabwe bowlers something to defend, and they managed to make a game out of it.
The Netherlands had their own struggles with the bat as Ngarava and Masakadza chipped away at their top and middle order.
At one time, the tourists were tethering at 110 for six and an unexpected victory seem within sight for the Chevrons.
However, Teja Nidamanuru proved to be the difference-maker as his unbeaten century saw the visitors home.
The 28-year-old middle-order batter finished with 110 runs off 96 balls, which featured nine boundaries and three maximums.
He found assistance in top-order batter Collin Ackerman, who chipped in with his own 50 runs off 72 balls.
Masakadza was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers, taking three wickets for 36 runs, while Ngarava chipped in with two wickets for 44 runs.
The two sides meet again tomorrow, a game Zimbabwe must win to stay alive before they wrap up the series on Saturday with the third and final ODI.