Match Report – ZIM vs NED 5th Match, Group A, June 20, 2023

Zimbabwe 319 for 4 (Raza 102*, Williams 91, Shariz 2-62) beat Netherlands 315 for 6 (Vikramjit 88, Edwards 83, Raza 4-55) by six wickets

Yet another imperious hand from Sean Williams and an all-round masterclass from Sikandar Raza ensured that a potentially tricky chase was handled with relative ease, as Zimbabwe made it two wins from two with a six-wicket victory over Netherlands.

Raza’s impact on the game was absolute, having started with a four-wicket haul to help keep the opposition down to what he deemed a “par” total of 315 – such was the nature of the track. That culminated with a truly belligerent display of power-hitting that climaxed incredibly in him reaching the fastest ever ODI century by a Zimbabwe batter, finishing unbeaten on 102 off 54 deliveries.

But while Raza will rightly take all the headlines, Williams’ role cannot be understated. His was a knock that was an exhibition in game management. Having come in to bat in the 14th over, he took a few overs to get in before cutting loose and looting 48 runs from overs 17-21. And he kept plugging away at a steady rate before Raza joined him in the 25th over.

At that point, Raza immediately made his intentions clear, as Williams took on a more reserved role. While Netherlands would no doubt rue some dropped chances over the course of the innings, once Williams – and then Raza – started going, there was no stopping the Zimbabwe juggernaut.

Raza would end the game having struck six fours and eight sixes – three of which came in three consecutive deliveries in a brutal assault on Shariz Ahmad in the 39th over – and such was his authority at Harare Sports Club that you wondered if any score Netherlands would have put up would have been enough. If it was any consolation, then 315 was their joint-highest score in ODIs.
Having been put into bat on a belter of a batting track, Netherlands weathered some early movement, and proceeded to motor along in their innings. A 120-run opening stand between Max O’Dowd and Vikramjit Singh was followed by a 96-run partnership between Vikramjit and captain Scott Edwards, who hit 83.

But despite their best efforts, they were never allowed to get out of hand, as Raza – utilising his vast experience and array of variations – consistently struck with the ball. Having broken the first-wicket union with a quicker one outside off that was chopped on by O’Dowd, Raza struck in his next over too, cleaning Wesley Barresi up with another one that was quicker and full.

And just as Edwards and Vikramjit would have been eyeing a big finish, Raza returned in the 39th over to have the latter miscue a sweep when on 88, and thus broke a threatening stand. That wicket, of the set batter, potentially took the momentum out of Netherlands’ innings; they did go on to score 81 off the final ten overs, which was a good effort, yet not good enough in terms of what the surface offered.

And so it would prove, as Raza returned with the bat to land the finishing blow on an otherwise respectable Netherlands performance.

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