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Zimbabwe clinch series after thumping Netherlands in decider

Gary Ballance and Wessly Madhevere both scored fifties while Sean Williams turned in an invaluable all-round performance as Zimbabwe cruised to a dominant seven-wicket victory over the Netherlands to secure the three-match one-day international series in front of a capacity crowd at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.

The tourists won the toss again but this time decided to bat first.

Their opening pair of Vikramjit Singh and Max O’Dowd gave the Netherlands an early advantage, as they put on 67 for the first wicket.

They were however out in quick succession, both batting catches to mid-off, for 27 and 38 respectively – 69 for two in the 17th over.

There followed another good partnership of 60 between Musa Ahmed and Colin Ackerman, and the score at one stage was 129 for two wickets.

Madhevere broke the stand by bowling out Ahmed for 29, while Williams took a good low diving return catch to remove Wesley Barresi for two – 132 for four in the 31st over.

Williams also struck a major blow by bowling Ackermann for 37 off 55 balls, which proved to be the longest and highest innings by the tourists, to reduce them to 147 for five in the 35th over.

After that the Netherlands struggled to increase their scoring rate as they wanted to against tight bowling, with the century-maker of the first match, Teja Nidamanuru, being restricted to 18 off 30 balls before Sikandar Raza produced a fine ball to bowl him as he tried a frustrated big hit.

When Williams bowled out the captain, Scott Edwards, for 34 off 41 balls in the following over – 192 for seven – the Netherlands were left with their tail-enders to do what they could in the last five overs.

Player of the Match and Player of the Series- Sean Williams Picture by Zimbabwe Cricket

They did quite well to add 39 runs and take the score to 231 for nine wickets, but it was a total short of their hopes, with no batter able to play a major innings of over 40.

Six of the seven bowlers used shared the wickets, with Williams taking three for 41 and Raza two for 55.

The four spin bowlers delivered 35 overs among them on a pitch that suited them more than the pacemen, and only Brandon Mavuta was unfortunately without reward.

Zimbabwe’s opening batters, Madhevere and Craig Ervine, batted fluently from the start and put on 96 for the first wicket in 18 overs.

However, they also left almost together, both falling to the leg-spinner Shariz Ahmed.

First, Ervine miscued a sweep to be superbly caught at midwicket by the diving Nidamanuru after scoring 44 off 55 balls.

Seven runs later, Madhevere, after completing a fine fifty, played a casual drive to be caught on the off side having faced 61 balls.

Now the two left-handers, Ballance and Williams, had to rebuild and they soon had the score moving along quite freely, raising the 50 partnership in nine overs.

The stand was worth 96 before Williams suffered an unlucky dismissal, being bowled by a ball from Fred Klaassen for 43 off 53 balls by a ball that shot through abnormally fast and low off the pitch to knock back his off stump.

Sikandar Raza came in next, and Ballance reached a well-crafted fifty, which took him 64 balls.

Raza was keen to finish the match as quickly as possible now, and roused the crowd with a big drive for six.

Ballance joined the party, and in the next over from Ahmad, Zimbabwe completed the victory in a blaze of glory: Ballance hit two fours and a single, and then Raza finished the series with a powerful back-foot drive for four to take the score to 235 for three.

Ballance scored 64 off 72 balls with eight fours, and Raza 18 off only nine balls.

Zimbabwe’s first four batters all exceeded 40 in achieving what in the end was a big victory by seven wickets.

Shariz Ahmad took two wickets for the Netherlands, but the batters seemed to single him out for some punishment, as his 9.4 overs conceded 71 runs.

Zimbabwe have claimed the series by two victories to one.

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