Netherlands extend Nepal's misery
The Netherlands extended Nepal's winless run in the tournament, wrapping up a seven wicket win in 31.5 overs. The Dutch dominated from the outset, a hugely improved bowling performance restricted Nepal to 171-9 from their 50 overs, a target which never looked defensible.
In drizzly conditions at Mount Maunganui Dutch skipper Peter Borren won the toss and elected to field. The decision seemed a sound one as Nepal's openers Anil Mandal and Pradeep Airee struggled against tight opening bowling from Viv Kingma and Mudassar Bukhari. With the run rate stalled, Airee fell victim to nerves as a poorly judged run saw him run out by Michael Rippon in the 7th over with just 16 on the board. Things did not improve for Nepal, as Gyanendra Malla found the going no easier.
Successive maidens from Kingma and Bukhari served to build the pressure, and both were rewarded in like succession, Kingma having Malla caught Behind 9-ball duck in the tenth over and Bukhari sending Mandal on his way for a 43-ball 7 three overs later. With his team stalled on 27-3 after 20 overs, captain Paras Khadka looked to shift the momentum when his opposite number, Borren, brought himself on at first change. Khadka took 11 runs off the first five balls of the over over, but lost his partner on the last, as Borren came back to trap Prithu Baskota LBW.
Sharad Vesawkar then joined his captain at the crease, but the pair were only able to add 15 more runs before Kingma claim his second wicket, dismissing Nepal's talismanic skipper for 29 to reduce them to 54-5, eventually finishing with figures of 2 for 18 from his 10 overs. Versakawa endured, but struggled to force the pace as he eked out a belaboured 41 from 90 balls. Ahsan Malik ensured Versakawa was never in the same company for long, dismissing first Binod Bhandari and then Shakti Gauchan for 26 jut as their partnership was looking set. Malik, who took 3 for 21 in his four overs, was to claim Versakawa himself as his third victim with the final ball of the Nepali innings, leaving his team a target of 172.
Despite losing opener Stephan Myburgh early again, the Dutch never looked in any real trouble chasing that down. Eric Szwarczynski and Wesley Barresi, who have batted extremely well together this tournament, put on 88 runs in the next 20 overs to bring the Netherlands to 95, before Barresi went for 31, caught by Khadka off the bowling of Regmi.
Borren then joined Szwarczynski in the middle, and the scoring rate only increased. Boasting the tournament's best average strike rate of 139, Borren drove the scoring as the pair added another 27 runs before Szwarczynski finally fell to Regmi having made 56. There was staunching the flow of runs though, as Borren and Michael Swart knocked off the requisite 50 runs in under 7 overs, Borren finishing on 45* from just 32 balls as he saw his side to a 7 wicket win.
The result leaves the under-performing and injury-hampered Nepali side still searching for their first win in the tournament, facing Uganda to avoid the wooden spoon, whilst the Dutch will take on Canada in the 7th/8th place play-off on the 28th - in what may be the last official ODI either side plays for some time.