Zimbabwe were given a wakeup call ahead of the start of the ICC World Cup Cup qualifiers next month after being stunned by the visiting Netherlands side by three wickets in the opening match of the three-match One Day International (ODI) series at Harare Sports Club on Tuesday.
Netherlands rode on Teja Nidamanuru’s stunning maiden one-day ODI century to reach 255 for seven in 49.5 overs after Zimbabwe had earlier been bowled out for 249 in 47.3 overs.
After losing the toss and being sent in to bat first on a wicket which offered plenty of bounce and pace for the quick bowlers early on, Zimbabwe lost their first five wickets inside 13 overs with just 70 runs on the board.
Zimbabwe however rode on a career-best 74 from 98 deliveries by wicketkeeper batter Clive Madande, who shared a 70-run stand for the eight-wicket with Wellington Masakadza who scored 34 off 50 deliveries.
After Masakadza was run-out, Madande shared another crucial partnership with Richard Ngarava (35 off 27 balls) as the duo helped Zimbabwe post a competitive score despite being bowled out in 47,3 deliveries.
Madande’s innings included six fours off 98 balls before being caught at first slip by captain and rival wicketkeeper Scott Edwards off the bowling of Fred Klaassen, who was the most successful Dutch bowler after claiming three wickets for 41 runs in 9.3 overs.
Despite failing to bat out their allotted 50 overs, Zimbabwe, who were buoyed by a star-studded bowling line-up spearheaded by Blessing Muzarabani would have been confident of restricting the Netherlands batting line-up.
Just like Zimbabwe earlier in the match, Netherlands were in trouble at 64 for five after 20 overs before the match winner Nidamanuru shared partnerships of 46 with Ackermann and 110 with Ahmad to turn the match back in the Dutch’s favour.
Nidamanuru, who came on to bat at number seven, benefitted from being dropped twice by Wellington Masakadza went on to punish Zimbabwe by scoring an unbeaten on 110 off 96 balls in his ninth ODI appearance.
His innings included three sixes and nine fours.
He was partnered in the end by Paul van Meekeren, who was also put down in the last over by former England batsman Gary Ballance, as the hosts were uncharacteristically sloppy in the field.
While Nidamanuru was the hero for the Dutch side, the foundation was earlier laid by Colin Ackermann who made an excellent 50, while Shariz Ahmad (30) and Van Meekeren (21 not out) also made valuable contributions to steer their side t a surprise victory.
Zimbabwe will be under pressure to keep the series alive when the two teams meet in the second match of the three-match series at the same venue on Thursday.