There have been few ODI defeats of a Full member by an Associate as comprehensive as the Netherlands’ 7-wicket victory over a lacklustre Zimbabwe at Deventer’s Schootsveld ground on Wednesday.

“Anytime we get to play a full member country it is a massive chance for us to show the world where we are at as cricketing nation,” said coach Ryan Campbell in the wake of the Netherlands going 1-0 in their ODI series.

The Dutch had, it is true, also won the last time the teams met, two seasons ago, but that was a dead rubber, the last of a three-match series Zimbabwe had already won, while this time it was the first game of four, with another ODI and two T20 Internationals to follow.

“I felt we challenged a very good Zimbabwe team in all facets of the game. I was extremely happy for guys like Max O’Dowd & Fred Klaassen who represent the future of this team” said Campbell, who has spoken at length in recent months about building a better foundation of younger players for Dutch cricket through the impending ODI Super League and beyond. “I was also extremely pleased with the way Skipper Pieter Seelaar handled the team & he led from the front with the ball,” Campbell also reflected.

And it was a match Pieter Seelaar’s side dominated from start to finish, to the extent that one might have been confused about which team was supposedly the underdog.

It must be acknowledged that the tourists, coming out of a close season, looked rusty, and that the conditions favoured the home side.

That said, though, the Dutch never gave them a chance to settle after Hamilton Maskadza won the toss and elected to bat, left-armer Fred Klaassen having already trapped Solomon Mire in front before, twenty deliveries into the match, the thunder and lightning which had been rolling in since before the start turned into a downpour which caused a stoppage of over an hour and a half and a three-over reduction.

Once play resumed the bowlers settled to the task and, helped by some irresolute Zimbabwean batting, reduced the opposition to 127 for six.

Masakadza fell to a fine running catch by Viv Kingma off Klaassen; Craig Ervine clipped Kingma to O’Dowd at point; Sean Williams was bowled by Roelof van der Merwe; while Sikandar Raza was magnificently caught by Klaassen, diving full-length at mid-on.

Only Brendan Taylor played an innings of any real character, defending judiciously and quickly fastening onto anything loose; he was particularly hard on Van der Merwe, six of his seven boundaries coming off the left-armer’s bowling.

He made 71 before falling to Seelaar: beaten by a delivery which turned and lifted, he tried to lash the next over midwicket and was bowled. He had faced 85 deliveries and hit two sixes in addition to those seven fours.

Once he had gone, seventh out in the 40th over with 159 on the board, it was left to Donald Tiripano and Kyle Jarvis to give themselves something to bowl at, and they did so pretty effectively, adding 40 before Tiripano skied Paul van Meekeren to Van der Merwe at cover.

Jarvis finished with an unbeaten 30-ball 32, the best score after Taylor’s, and the innings closed on 205 for eight.

The pick of the Dutch bowlers were Klaassen, who bowled an exemplary opening spell and finished with two for 29, and Pieter Seelaar, whose two for 32 – including those two Taylor sixes – did less than justice to another excellent spell.

Any Zimbabwean illusion that 205 might be enough was quickly dispelled by Tobias Visée, whose initial depredations have become a feature of Dutch club cricket, and which here, too, got the side away to a brisk start before, on 28, he was leg-before to the left-arm spin of Ainsley Ndlovu.

But the Dutch response was guided by Visée’s opening partner, Max O’Dowd, in his first ODI, who batted throughout the innings, and whose unbeaten 86, made from 119 deliveries with ten fours, ensured his side’s victory.

He shared in partnerships of 67 for the second wicket with Ben Cooper (35) and of 92 for the fourth, an unbroken stand with Wesley Barresi, who made 39 not out.

It was an unhurried, imperturbable effort, and while all the Dutch batsmen were kept quiet at times, notably by Ndlovu, Sean Williams – who removed both Cooper and Bas de Leede and finished with two for 38 – and Tiripano, they were always well ahead on DLS, and there was never much doubt that the acceleration, when it came, would be decisive.

As the final powerplay began O’Dowd and Barresi started playing their shots in earnest: two overs brought 25 runs, and the issue was effectively settled. No sooner had the players left the field than the heavens opened again, this time with added hailstones, but the efficient Deventer ground staff had the square well and truly covered.

For Zimbabwe, there will be some serious evaluation to be done before Friday’s re-match, but for the Netherlands this was a victory to be savoured and, perhaps, to be reprised when the sides return to Het Schootsveld.

“Tomorrow will represent another big challenge when we take them on again and I’m sure they will be super keen to bounce back,” Campbell warily concluded.

Netherlands 208^ for 3 (O’Dowd 86*^) beat Zimbabwe 205 for 8 (Taylor 71, Klaassen 2-29) by seven wickets (^the ESPN Cricinfo scorecard according to our records, is incorrect). Photo: KNCB.

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