Zimbabwe’s spinners set up another win

Zimbabwe

The third ODI of the Super League series between Zimbabwe and the Netherlands was almost as one-sided as the first two had been thrilling, as the home side cruised to a seven-wicket victory, spurred on by a large and exuberant Saturday crowd.

Each side made two changes: Zimbabwe brought back Richard Ngarava and included leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta for the first time, while the Dutch, anticipating a tired pitch, played off spinner Aryan Dutt in place of Ryan Klein as well as bringing in Wesley Barresi at the expense of Tom Cooper.

The Dutch innings started well enough after Edwards won the toss and elected to bat, but they were once again bedevilled by the familiar problem of an inability to take charge, especially in the middle overs, as the Zimbabwean spin quartet of Wessly Madhevere, Sikandar Raza, Mavuta and Sean Williams were able to bowl 35 overs at a combined cost of 4.75 an over.

Six of the top seven batters got a start, but none was able to take full advantage, and despite stands of 67 for the first wicket between Vikram Singh and Max O’Dowd, and of 60 for the third between Musa Ahmad and Colin Ackermann, there was never a sense that the bowlers were going to lose control of things, even when they were let down by more indifferent catching.

The situation could, indeed, have been even worse for the tourists had keeper Clive Madande not dropped a sitter from Singh off Blessing Muzarabani when he was on 16, Mavuta put down Musa off his own bowling, and Raza failed to grab a chance from Ackermann off Mavuta five overs later.

Even so, O’Dowd’s 38 was the most anyone could manage, with Ackermann contributing 37 and Edwards 34; Williams was the best of the bowlers with three for 41.

Defending a disappointing 231 for nine, the Dutch needed early wickets, but they were denied by Madhevere and Ervine who put on 96 in the most productive opening stand of the series before Shariz Ahmad removed both in the space of two overs, Ervine on 44 falling to a fine diving catch by Nidamanuru and then Madhevere, immediately after reaching his fifty, holing out to Ackermann at cover.

With Dutt bowling with admirable control to back up the threat from Shariz there was briefly a hint of an open door, but it was promptly slammed shut by Gary Ballance and Williams, who combined caution where necessary with some powerful aggression when opportunity came, showing much more enterprise than their opponents had been able to muster.

Dutt completed an admirable set to finish with none for 31, but by the time Klaassen returned to remove Williams for 43 only 33 were required with more than ten overs remaining.

Ballance, playing his first significant innings of the series, went on to make a 72-ball 64, while Raza smacked 18 off nine deliveries to complete the win with more than eight overs to spare.

It was a disappointing conclusion to the series for Edwards’ side, who now move on to Benoni and Johannesburg to complete their Super League campaign with two matches against South Africa, who are still in the hunt for the eighth automatic World Cup qualifying place and will leapfrog the West Indies if they manage two wins.

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