Levitt century sets up big Dutch win over Namibia

The year wasn’t the only thing leaping at the Tribhuvan University ground on Thursday: the Netherlands’ opener Michael Levitt, with some help from Sybrand Engelbrecht, leapt into the record books and probably booked himself a trip to the Caribbean with an outstanding 62-ball innings of 135, and the boundary fielders on both sides spent their 29 February leaping, usually in vain, trying to intercept the missiles which were flying over their heads.

In the end, the Dutch beat Namibia by 59 runs on a day in which 40 overs produced 435 runs, 312 of them in boundaries, but that was only part of the story.

After Scott Edwards won the toss and, in a first here by any captain in either format, elected to bat, his side proceeded to set a string of records: Levitt’s 135 was the best score by a Dutch batter in a T20I, overtaking Max O’Dowd’s unbeaten 133 against Malaysia on this same ground three years ago; his partnership of 193 – from 88 deliveries –  with Engelbrecht was the highest for the second wicket for any country; and the total of 247 for five was also a Dutch record in T20Is.

In only his sixth game for his adopted country, Levitt was comparatively restrained at first, and after O’Dowd had fallen to a fine diving catch by Michael van Lingen at deep backward square, it was Engelbrecht who initially took charge.

He raced to 34 from 18 deliveries, but once Levitt took over his role largely switched to that of strike-provider as his partner raced past him to his fifty and then, just 17 deliveries later, to his maiden international hundred.

Both men continually peppered the stands, roofs and near-empty embankments, and apart from one miraculous save from Ben Shikongo the bowlers feeders and fielders were simply unable to stem the flow.

Finally, with the total past 200 and three overs still remaining, Levitt holed out to Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton on the rope at long on, his knock having included 11 fours and ten sixes, and in the next over the same fielder had to do a bit more work to get under another steepling catch, this time from Edwards.

But there was no relief for Namibia as Teja Nidamanuru despatched the first three – and as it proved, only – balls he received for six, two over backward square and the third back over bowler Trumpelmann’s head.

Engelbrecht eventually departed in the final over for a 40-ball 75, including seven fours and five sixes, fitting reward for a fine effort from Shikongo, and a mid-pitch mix-up saw Nidamanuru run out off the next delivery.

But 248 was a massive ask, and although the Namibians gave it their best shot, actually out-scoring their opponents in the initial powerplay, they lost three wickets in the process, and no-one was able to produce the sustained onslaught which Levitt and Engelbrecht had done.

Jan Frylinck contributed a 27-ball 42 before he was bowled trying to plant Van der Gugten onto the midwicket bank, and towards the end Zane Green made a defiant 20-ball 42 not out, but all six Dutch bowlers chipped in with at least one wicket, and by the end the Namibians were stranded on 188 for seven.

Kingma with one for 26 and Van der Gugten with two for 26 were the pick of the Dutch bowlers, and once again nine of the twelve bowlers used by the two captains went for more than ten an over.

It had been a brutal spectacle of power hitting, Levitt’s innings historic in more ways than one, but it had more in common with Lions vs Christians – the bowlers, obviously, cast in the role of the Christians – than with the longer formats of cricket.

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