Dutch stun Afghanistan with nine-wicket ODI victory
The Netherlands turned in one of their most commanding performances at the Sharjah CA Stadium on Thursday to dismiss Afghanistan for 153 and win by nine wickets in the first of their two ODIs in the World Cricket League Championship.
In temperatures pushing up towards 40 degrees Celsius and on a track flatter than the Emirates Road, the Dutch seized the initiative in the first ten overs, skipper Peter Borren – who had earlier lost the toss in his 50th ODI and found himself in the field – first removing Karim Sadiq, caught behind down the leg side, and then Javed Ahmadi and his opposite number Nowroz Mangal with successive deliveries, to leave Afghanistan on 44 for three.
Worse was to follow for the home side in the following over, when the always-dangerous Mohammad Shahzad, who had struck Michael Swart for two fours, was bowled by the off-spinner's next delivery to make the score 54 for four.
Asghar Stanikzai and Mohammad Nabi now put together the Afghans' best partnership, adding 53 for the fifth wicket in less than 14 overs, but the Dutch attack maintained the pressure, bowling excellent line and length, backed up by impressively sharp fielding in the blistering heat.
Pieter Seelaar contributed an excellent six-over spell, and it was he who eventually secured the breakthrough, Asghar falling to another smart catch at the wicket by Barresi. He had made 25 from 41 deliveries.
Nabi continued in tandem with Samiullah Shenwari, adding another 31 before Sami fell to Borren, whose return to the attack bore almost immediate fruit as the batsman clubbed him to Seelaar on the long on boundary.
All the pressure was now on Nabi, and when Gulbadin Naib ran himself out looking for an impossible single to Seelaar it seemed more than probable that the Dutch would be chasing something under 200.
That became virtually certain when Nabi, trying to get the scoring going again, holed out to Alexei Kervezee at long on off Tom Cooper, and Afghanistan were 145 for eight.
The tail got the total up to 153, Cooper taking the last two wickets to finish with three for 11 (his best figures for the Netherlands), while Borren's four for 32 was also his best performance with the ball in Dutch colours. There was little in the conditions for Timm van der Gugten and Mudassar Bukhari – the latter comparatively expensive – but Ahsan Malik Jamil, although wicketless, also bowled extremely well in his five-over spell.
The Dutch had to negotiate a 16-over session in the hour before the scheduled lunch interval, and did so for the loss of Stephan Myburgh's wicket, caught in front by Izzatollah Dawlatzai when the total was 49.
By the break, however, Swart and Kervezee had taken the score along to 80, and when they resumed Kervezee in particular seemed determined to finish the game as quickly as possible, going after Nabi whenever the opportunity offered itself.
He raced to his half-century from just 49 balls, and with Swart largely content to play a supporting role the pair brought up the century stand in less than 17 overs. That was through a majestic straight drive from Kervezee, and when he despatched the next ball to the boundary the Dutch had won with 23.4 overs to spare.
Kervezee finished with an undefeated, 63-ball 83, with 13 fours and two sixes, while Swart ended on 42 not out, made from 67 deliveries with four fours and a six. It was Kervezee's tenth half-century for the Netherlands, and his fourth in ODIs. Nowroz tried seven bowlers, but only Gulbadin Naib – briefly – was able to stem the flow of runs. It was undoubtedly one of the Netherlands' most impressive performances, and it will be interesting to see how Afghanistan come back in the second ODI at the same venue on Saturday.