Lazarus, the Bible tells us, rose from the dead; but seldom have we seen two resurrections in one day, as we did at the Harare Sports Club on Tuesday as first Zimbabwe and then the Netherlands came back from apparently terminal situations.
It was the Dutch who had the last word, thanks to Teja Nidamanuru’s fighting 110 not out which saw them recover from 110 for six to record a thrilling three-wicket Super League victory.
Earlier, Zimbabwe had pulled off a miracle recovery of their own, Clive Madande, Wellington Masakadza and Richard Ngarava bringing them back from 98 for seven to set their visitors a challenging 250 to win.
The morning had been all orange after Scott Edwards elected to bowl first: Fred Klaassen and Paul van Meekeren extracted good lateral movement and sharp bounce, accounting for Craig Ervine, Gary Balance and Innocent Kaia inside the initial powerplay.
31 for three might have been for four had Shariz Ahmad been able to cling on to a sharp chance from Wessley Madhevere, but luck turned against the batter when Sikandar Raza hammered Brandon Glover back straight, the bowler got a finger-tip to the ball, and it crashed into the stumps quicker than Madhevere could dive.
Glover was having one of his Mr Hyde days, bowling a succession of wides and generally struggling with his line, but when Ryan Burl chased a wide one he got an edge and Edwards took his second catch of the innings.
Raza had started promisingly, but when Vikram Singh came into the attack Raza tried to pull him, and Shariz sprinted in to take a superb catch at deep forward square leg to make it 91 for six.
Then Shariz claimed a wicket of his own, Brad Evans bizarrely bottom-edging a legside delivery into his stumps, and Zimbabwe were on the ropes at 98 for seven.
But Masakadza now joined Madonde, and slowly but surely they began to turn things round.
Without the injured Bas de Leede, and with the Dutch having decided to play an extra batter, Edwards needed a big contribution from Singh and from Colin Ackermann, but even so it was surprising that he did not bring Klaassen or Van Meekeren back earlier to try to end a burgeoning eight-wicket stand.
It burgeoned to the tune of 70 from 103 deliveries before it was broken, and it took a mistake by the batters to bring that about: Madande pushed Ackermann to midwicket, Shariz pounced, and Masakadza, looking for the single, was left stranded.
He had made 34, and at this point Madande was on 40; joined now by Ngarava, he duly posted his fifty, while Ngarava went onto the attack, adding a 27-ball 35 which included three fours and two sixes.
Finally, Edwards brought back Klaassen and Van Meekeren, and the left-armer finished things off, getting Ngarava caught by Ackermann and then Madande, who had made 74 from 98 deliveries, well caught by Edwards diving forward after he had top-edged a pull.
So Zimbabwe were all out for 249, and Klaassen finished with a thoroughly-deserved three for 41; Van Meekeren was not far behind with two for 50.
The momentum, though, was with the home side, and Ngarava and Blessing Muzarabani took full advantage when they took the new ball against a remarkably tentative Dutch top order.
Singh and Tom Cooper were both caught down the leg side off Ngarava, and then Max O’Dowd clipped Masakadza straight to Evans at short midwicket and the Netherlands were 48 for three.
Evans then trapped Musa Ahmad in front in the next over, and they were 49 for four; worse, it had taken them 17 and a half overs to get there.
Edwards came and went, and Nidamanuru joined Ackermann, who had been proceeding watchfully against Zimbabwe’s mixture of pace and spin.
Boundaries were few and far between, and gradually the asking rate crept past sevens, then eights; Ackermann reached his half-century, but then immediately ran down the wicket at Masakadza and was bowled.
121 were now needed off 15 overs, and with Masakadza and Burl keeping it tight the rate continued to edge upwards.
But Nidamanuru was looking the most composed he has since his half-century on debut against the West Indies back in the summer, and at 19 Shariz showed himself to be absolutely nerveless, standing up to the big occasion and helping Nidamanuru to add 110 for the eighth wicket, breaking the Dutch ODI record set by Billy Stelling and Peter Borren in 2007.
Battling cramp, Nidamanuru began to go onto the attack, belting Burl back over his head and into the sightscreen twice in one over, and slowly the balance swung back the Netherlands’ way; Masakadza, who had bowled magnificently for his three for 36, grassed two difficult catches in one Sikandar Raza over, 39 runs came from three overs, and with five left they needed 46.
Even the return of Ngarava and Muzarabani did not entirely stem the flow, although Zimbabwe received a boost when Shariz, looking for a second, joined Nidamanuru at the bowler’s end and had to depart for 30, by far the best innings of his budding career.
That, however, brought in Van Meekeren, who had demonstrated his hitting power during the World T20 Cup in Australia, and he quickly showed that he, too, was prepared to take on the bowlers.
Nidamanuru reached his maiden international century with a boundary off Ngarava, the first ODI hundred for the Netherlands since Wesley Barresi made 137 not out against Kenya in 2014, and now 19 were needed from twelve deliveries.
15 came from Muzarabani’s next, including a third straight six by Nidamanuru, and so just four were required from the last.
Three singles levelled the scores with two balls left, but as the wiseacres started to talk about a Super League Super Over Van Meekeren finished it by despatching Evans over midwicket for the winning six.
He had made 21 from nine deliveries, but the Player of the Match could only be Nidamanuru, whose unbeaten 110 had come from 96 deliveries, his last 60 coming from just 33.
It was disappointing for the hosts, who had done so well to dig themselves out of early trouble, but it would be wrong to begrudge the Dutch victory after they had fought so hard against other Full member opposition over the past year without quite conjuring a win.
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