Netherlands skittle Zimbabweans
Netherlands 194 for 9 (Cooper 49, Barresi 47, Rainsford 3-39) beat Zimbabwe XI 136 (Coventry 31, Jonkman 3-18, Bukhari 3-31) by 58 runs
A resurgent Netherlands, fresh from their six-wicket trouncing of a full-strength Bangladesh side in Glasgow three days ago, have handed out similar treatment to the touring Zimbabwe XI. Grafting innings from Tom Cooper (49) and Wesley Barresi (47) carried Netherlands to 194 for 9 before Maurits Jonkman and Mudassar Bukhari combined to skittle the Zimbabweans for 136, taking three cheap wickets apiece to seal a 58-run win.
The pitch at the VRA Ground in Amstelveen played consistently slow and low during the recent World Cricket League Division One tournament, and conditions were no different today. It appeared Bas Zuiderent had erred after he opted to bat first and Netherlands slid to 48 for 3 in the 18th over, but Cooper held the top order together for the first half of the innings before he was stumped one run short of a half-century of Sean Williams' left-arm spin.
He had done well to see off challenging opening spells from Ed Rainsford and Shingi Masakadza, who removed both Netherlands openers before Nathan Waller's medium pace did for Tom de Grooth and Zuiderent.
Netherlands were tottering at 94 for 5 when Cooper departed, but Barresi and Bukhari staved off the collapse with a 33-run stand before Barresi took his side to within reach of a respectable target by adding a further 50 runs for the seventh wicket with Ruud Nijman. After he was run out with the score at 177, the Zimbabwean opening bowlers returned to pick up another wicket each and keep Netherlands to under 200.
The Zimbabweans would no doubt have been confident chasing such a small total, but Zuiderent's men will have been far more familiar with a bowler-friendly pitch and chipped steadily away at the batting line-up as three partnerships worth more than 20 were put together, but none went past Regis Chakabva and Stuart Matsikenyeri's 25 for the second wicket.
Charles Coventry did his best to inject some life into the middle order with a 37-ball 31, and when he was caught behind off Bukhari the Zimbabweans were 98 for 5 - a very similar position to that midway through the Dutch innings. But none of the lower order came to term with the conditions, Jonkman picking up the last three wickets to fall. With Williams unable to bat after injuring himself in the field, Jonkman sealed the win by disturbing Natsai Mushangwe's stumps in the 40th over.
Despite the fact that only two members of the Zimbabwe XI squad - Coventry and Craig Ervine - are recent regulars in the senior national side, every member of the team has represented their country at some level and few would have backed Netherlands to pull off a convincing win with such ease. The Zimbabweans will have to acclimatise quickly if they are to hold off what is sure to be a spirited attack from a buoyed Netherlands side when the two teams meet again for a four-day Intercontinental Cup game on Sunday.