Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000
Pakistan 206 (Babar 91, Nawaz 27, de Leede 3-50, Kingma 2-15) beat Netherlands 197 (Cooper 62, Vikramjit 50, Naseem 5-33, Wasim 4-36) by nine runs
For a large part of the chase, it seemed that Netherlands would topple Pakistan, particularly during a 71-run fourth-wicket partnership between Vikramjit Singh and Tom Cooper. But with the pressure at its most intense, Naseem and Wasim bowled with a composure that belied their inexperience, taking nine wickets between them to close out the game. Naseem registered career-best figures of 5 for 33, with Wasim backing him up with 4 for 36.
Earlier, a miserly bowling performance from Netherlands saw Pakistan bowled out for 206 in 49.4 overs, handing the home side a golden opportunity to nab a win. Pakistan were exceptionally conservative with the bat for much of the innings; by the end of 30 overs, they were 105 for 3. Bas de Leede, Netherlands' best player of the series, was once again exceptional with the ball as he ran through the middle order, striking thrice to prevent Pakistan ever really breaking away. Only Babar Azam, who scored a steady, if sedate, 125-ball 91, was able to keep the innings together, but in the absence of a supporting cast or an injection of impetus, a modest total was all that Pakistan could muster.
Netherlands sniffed an opportunity, but they were abundantly cautious early on, and Naseem, as he had done all series, continued to punch holes in their batters' defences. Max O'Dowd played at one that nipped away to cap an indifferent series before Naseem cleaned up Musa Ahmad with a ball that held its line from around the wicket. Wasim, who replaced the somewhat less potent Shahnawaz Dahani, took up the mantle from the other end, sending de Leede back after he nicked one through to Mohammad Haris.
But with the target relatively low, the hosts were never out of the game, and one big partnership was enough to give Pakistan a real fright. Vikramjit and Cooper began to rebuild after the early blows, the former's three successive boundaries off Wasim a clear signal of intent. The duo looked comfortable against most Pakistan bowlers.
Pakistan needed a breakthrough fast, and for that, Babar turned to Wasim once more. In the second over of his new spell, he sent Vikramjit packing. Naseem, of course, was not to be outdone, removing Scott Edwards in his first over back with a dream delivery that beat the outside edge of the bat and crunched into off stump.
But Netherlands rebuilt with Cooper and Teja Nidamanuru, a 56-run stand taking them to within 35 of the target. At that stage, the asking rate was under seven, and Netherlands were turning the screws once more.
But the Naseem-Wasim duo refused to give up, combining in a scintillating death-overs display to remove the pair in the space of six balls and burrow into the tail. From thereon, it was an uphill task for Netherlands against two bowlers in top form and, while Pakistan were made to sweat, victory always seemed a touch out of their reach. Wasim rattled Aryan Dutt's stumps to finish off the game, and Pakistan just about got away with one.
Kingma and Dutt kept things tighter than a taxman's purse, never allowing Pakistan any freedom to accelerate. The fielding was lively, and with the batters finding the fielders with most shots, Pakistan began to feel suffocated. Neither Fakhar Zaman nor Babar could truly break away, and even when there were changes in the bowling, a change in fortunes for Pakistan did not accompany them.
The pressure finally got to Fakhar, who went for a huge heave against Logan van Beek, only to be beaten by the pace and have his off stump rattled. Netherlands only squeezed harder, with the run rate continuing to snail along well under four.
Babar was curiously passive through the innings, and the failure of the inexperienced middle order to capitalise made his wicket even more valuable. It didn't come until fairly late in the innings, but his failure to break free meant he couldn't inflict much damage anyway. It was Dutt, the pick of the bowlers, who got rid of him for the second time this series, taking a superb one-handed catch off his own bowling. Dutt had deserved it more than perhaps any other bowler, his figures of 10-1-34-1 a just reward for a sensational showing.
The final few overs saw Pakistan trying to accelerate, only for Netherlands to shackle them further. The odd four or six gave hopes of a change in momentum, but it was swiftly followed by wickets. No. 10 Zahid Mahmood struck a six in the penultimate over, but Kingma returned to help Netherlands get the final two wickets.
At that stage, Netherlands looked on track for their first home win of the summer. They might well have reached there but for two young Pakistani fast bowlers.
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