The Netherlands achieved the first major objective of their World Cup Qualifier campaign at the Takashinga Sports Club on Saturday when they reached the Super Six stage by virtue of a convincing eight-wicket victory over Nepal.
It was built on another commanding effort by the bowling unit, who never really allowed the Nepali batters into the game and finally dismissed them for just 167, and completed – or almost completed – by a fine 90 from Max O’Dowd, who carried them to within ten runs of the win.
Put in to bat by Scott Edwards, Nepal suffered an immediate setback when Aasif Sheikh chopped a Logan van Beek delivery into his stumps in the third over of the game, although Kushal Bhurtel and Bhim Sharki partially restored their side’s fortunes with a 39-run stand for the second wicket.
If the Nepalis’ start was not quite as dramatic as the USA’s dramatic early collapse on Thursday, neither was there a similar recovery later in the innings, as the Dutch attack steadily worked their way through their opponents’ line-up.
Logan van Beek was the pick of the seam attack, returning at intervals to collect another wicket, including the crucial one of skipper Rohit Paudel, who top-scored for Nepal with a solid 33, and he thoroughly deserved his figures of four for 24, his best ever in an ODI.
He was given valuable support by Bas de Leede (two for 31 from eight overs) and Vikram Singh (two for 20 from four), while Aryan Dutt’s off-spin was exemplary, his first five overs conceding only four runs; even after Paudel had decided to go after him, hitting a six and a four from consecutive deliveries, he still finished with one for 23 from eight overs.
There was no question here about the Dutch catching: they accepted almost every chance that came their way, Edwards collecting four of them.
Nepal needed early wickets, but O’Dowd went onto the attack from the start, and after some cautious moments Singh joined him in a powerplay onslaught which saw 58 come from the first ten overs.
The total had reached 86 before Sandeep Lamichchane finally trapped Singh leg-before for 30, and in his next over he also removed Wesley Barresi, caught by Dipendra Singh Airee for three.
But that was the last of Nepal’s successes, as O’Dowd, whose half-century had come from just 30 deliveries and who had become the third Dutch batter of the week to pass 1000 ODI runs, was joined by De Leede with just 72 required for victory.
As the target drew closer the question arose whether he would be able to achieve his first ODI century: with 50 needed he was on 76, but after a steady start De Leede, too, began to find the boundary, and when he hit Karan KC through the keeper’s hands to the boundary to move to 33, O’Dowd was on 90 with only ten required.
Gulsan Jha settled the matter by bowling the opener with the first ball of the next over: his 90 had come from 75 deliveries with eight fours and four sixes, and he had to content himself with having reached his highest ODI score and with having virtually sealed the win – which he subsequently declared was far more important.
Teja Nidamanuru joined De Leede for the denouement, which lasted only another six balls, Nidamanuru hitting the winning single and leaving De Leede on an unbeaten 41.
Lamichchane’s two wickets ultimately came at a cost of 60 runs, half of them in boundaries, and it was Gulsan Jha who was the most economical of the Nepali bowlers with one for 27 from six overs.
The rapidity of the win lifted the Netherlands above the West Indies on net run rate, but barring a tie in their final group game tomorrow, that will be insignificant: that match will be all about who takes the two points with them into the Super Six.
Once again Scott Edwards’ men will need to raise their game a notch if they are to post their first-ever victory over the West Indies.
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