Clinical Dutch claim consolation win
Bertus de Jong
The Netherlands demolished Zimbabwe to claim a consolation 149-run victory in the final game of the three match tour. With proceedings relocating to VCC's Sportpark Westvliet for the third and final match of Zimbabwe's tour, stand-in skipper Solomon Mire won the toss for the visitors and invited his hosts to bat in damp and overcast conditions on a wicket that promised plenty for the bowlers.
Despite adverse conditions however, the Dutch battled to an imposing 279 run total, with Michael Rippon's 79-ball 71 the stand-out contribution. The host's pace attack quickly showed just what a remarkable achievement that was in the conditions, as they tore through the Zimbabwean batting to reduce the tourists to 67-7, only a defiant half-century from VCC alumnus Malcolm Waller saving them from the ignominy of a 200 run defeat before Roelof van der Merwe mopped up the tail.
Dutch openers Wesley Barresi and Stephan Myburgh found the going tough initially, Barresi taking an early blow on the shoulder from a ball that reared up off a length that seemed to erode his trust in the surface.
Whilst Myburgh was able to profit from a few loose balls to move into the 30s at a run a ball, Barresi remained pinned down, taking some 11 overs to reach double figures. The wicket's early demons seemed to vanish fairly quickly after the first few overs, but neither of the Dutch opening pair would be able to take advantage once the hard work had been done.
Myburgh would be run out for 33 in the 12th, and Barresi would become Sikandar Raza's second victim playing outside of one that floated up and turned through the gap having ground out a 53-ball 22. Raza had done for Ben Cooper in his previous over, clean bowled looking to slog-sweep after a rather more sprightly 23-ball 27, but the Dutch top three had done well to put on 93 runs in the first 19 overs in what were the toughest batting conditions of the day.
Michael Rippon would build on the platform they had set, constructing solid half-century partnerships with van der Merwe and Peter Borren. The runs through the middle overs came mostly in ones and twos with the ball not really coming on, but came with sufficient regularity to get the Dutch up to 200 with ten overs to go.
Sikander Zulfiqar would join Rippon for another fifty partnership as the Dutch accelerated toward the death, adding another 61 in 44 balls before Rippon carved a slower ball from Chris Mpofu to Mire at cover having made 71 from 79 balls, the last ten of them with a broke toe courtesy a yorker from Donald Tiripano.
With 270 on the board and two overs to go the 300 was in sight for the Dutch, but Shane Snater would hook straight to fine leg next ball and Zulfiqar would be caught in the deep trying to hit out three balls later, with a run out in the last over bringing the innings to a close with three balls unused and 279 on the board.
It may as well have been 2079 for all the chance the tourists had of chasing it however, as the vaunted Dutch pace attack made short work of the Zimbabwean batting. Left-armer Fred Klaassen got the ball rolling by holding a low return catch off Solomon Mire and then swinging one in through Hamilton Maskadza's defences to reduce the visitors to 20-2.
With Timm van deer Gugten already back in Wales and Viv Kingma sidelined awaiting an elbow operation, it's a testament to the depth of the Netherlands pace bench that Klaassen should rock up and claim two top order wickets in two balls on debut against a full member, and it was another relative newcomer in Shane Snater that would continue the good work, trapping Chamu Chibhabha LBW on the first ball of the next over, and later removing Ryan Burl and Tarisai Musakanda in successive overs to see Zimbabwe slump to 42-4.
Paul van Meekeren and Logan van Beek were not to be left out, picking up the wickets of Peter Moor and Sikandar Raza respectively as the collapse continued. Of the Zimbabwe batsmen only Malcolm Waller, batting on his one-time home ground, ever looked truly comfortable.
The former VCCer made his way toward a seemingly serene 43-ball fifty with a series of cuts and fine-looking cover drives, but the introduction of van der Merwe swiftly put a stop to the tail's defiance. The left arm spinner struck twice in his second over to remove Tiripano and Mpofu, and Waller, having brought up his half century lifting van Beek over the slips for six on the seventh(!) ball of the 26th over, would be van der Merwe's third victim, edging to first slip where Peter Borren gratefully bagged the chance, sealing a historic win for his side.