A final round of matches which saw just 897 runs scored across the four games at an average of 5.84 an over, with 66 wickets falling and only one successful run chase, raised some serious questions about the requirements and limitations of the format.
You might argue that it was a good thing to see the bowlers in charge for once in a format which is generally heavily weighted towards the batters, but in truth, tense as the climax was in two of the four matches, as a spectacle it left a good deal to be desired.
T20 demands that the batters accept a much higher degree of risk in playing their shots than in either of the other internationally-accepted forms of the game, and on tired pitches such as those we saw in Bulawayo on Sunday, such enterprise is only too likely to end in disaster.
None of this should detract from Zimbabwe’s performance in the final: they defended their total of 132 with passion, skill and belief, and they exploited the Netherlands’ vulnerability against quality spin bowling with ruthless efficiency.
The Dutch had again excelled with the ball, their seamers again pulling the game around after Regis Chakabva and Craig Ervine had got their side off to a flyer.
Logan van Beek got the initial breakthrough by bowling Ervine, and if he was later somewhat fortunate to have Sikandar Raza adjudged leg-before, his double-wicket maiden was crucial in restricting the Zimbabweans, and he thoroughly deserved his figures of three for 18.
Bas de Leede, too, produced two outstanding deliveries to remove Regis Chakabva and Tony Munyonga, while Tim Pringle provided his most impressive effort to date in Dutch colours, restricting Raza and Sean Williams to just two runs off the tenth over of the innings to slow the home side’s progress and finishing with one for 21.
Zimbabwe started the defence of their low total with two spinners, Wessley Madhevere immediately applying pressure by removing both Max O’Dowd and Friday’s hero De Leede, and when Tom Cooper was beaten by a direct hit from Milton Shumba the Dutch were on 45 for three and the Zimbabweans were distinctly on top.
Sikandar Raza pressed home the advantage as the batters began to show signs of desperation, removing the dangerous Myburgh for 22 and going on to claim three more wickets to finish with the remarkable figures of four for 8, while Sean Williams was equally mesmeric, Ervine relying almost entirely on spin.
Teja Nidamanuru put up some forlorn resistance, but boundaries had dried up almost entirely, and whereas the Dutch had reached this stage by bossing less experienced sides they now found the situation reversed, their long tail now exposed for the first time in the tournament, and the innings ended with the total on 95.
Runs were even more at a premium in the third-place playoff at the Athletic Club, where Papua New Guinea were dismissed for 97 but then bowled the United States out for 92.
The Americans owed much to 20-year-old Vatsal Vaghela, playing for the first time in the tournament and in only his second T20I, who took two for 12 with his left-arm spinners and went on to top-score with 29, while Chad Soper’s three for 11 and Assad Vala’s three for 18 did most of the damage for PNG.
A hint of what was to come at the Queen’s ground was provided by the morning’s fifth-place playoff, with Uganda restricted to 102 for seven by Hong Kong but in their turn keeping their opponents down to 98 for eight and winning by four runs.
Only the seventh-place match at the Athletic Club followed the lines of a regular T20, with Manpreet Singh’s 47 guiding Singapore to 140 for seven, only for Jersey to cruise to a six-wicket victory with more than four overs to spare, thanks to Nick Greenwood’s 26-ball 48, 36 from Asa Tribe and 39 not out from Jonty Jenner.
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