An ODI win nine years in the making – Netherlands No.7 smashes century in remarkable comeback over Zimbabwe
The Netherlands recorded their first official ODI away victory in nine years, over Zimbabwe in Harare today (March 21). Teja Nidamanuru scored a defeat-defying century at No.7 in a thrilling chase.
Twenty overs and three balls into their innings, the Netherlands were 64-5. Captain Scott Edwards was on his way back to the dugout, seemingly along with his side’s hopes of chasing the 250 runs they had been set. Replacing him at the crease was Teja Nidamanuru. Before today, he had played eight ODIs with a batting average of 20.14. His top score, an unbeaten 58 on debut, accounted for over a third of his total run tally.
Nevertheless, Nidamanuru walked out at No.7 as a specialist batter. The makeup of the Netherlands’ side with Vikramjit Singh and Colin Ackermann in the top six meant they could afford the luxury of continuing their batters deep into their order.
He started his innings watchfully, playing out dots from his first five balls before getting off the mark to Blessing Muzarabani. As he and Ackermann began to build a partnership, the Netherlands’ run rate slowed to 3.5. Ackerman was out in the 31st over, falling just short of a fifty stand with Nidamanuru, leaving Shariz Ahmad to plod along and prolong the inevitable defeat.
But, by the ten overs remaining mark, putting one foot in front of the other had turned into a legitimate chance. 97 off 60 balls with four wickets in hand and two set batters at the crease. Definitely worth having a dip at.
Nidamanuru reached his fifty off 63 balls with a single off Ryan Burl. Now with a second ODI fifty and the required run rate above ten, that was his signal to cut loose. He hit a four of the first ball of the following over and two sixes in the next, targeting the short straight boundary. Twenty balls after reaching his fifty, he moved into the nineties.
But, even a hero can’t be perfect. Nudging into the offside, he called Shariz through for a single, his eyes fixed on the ball as it rolled into the deep. He didn’t take his eyes off the ball as Shariz sprinted back for a second. By the time he turned his head, Shariz was next to him and the bails were off at the other end.
The disappointment didn’t last long, a four in the next over giving Nidamanuru a maiden international century – the 25th player to score a hundred at seven in a men’s ODI. Taking his helmet off and staring intensely at the Netherlands’ balcony, his celebration left no doubt that he was fixated on the task at hand.
By the beginning of the penultimate over, the balance of probabilities had evened. The Netherlands needed 19 runs to pull off their long-awaited away victory. They had been dead and buried an hour before, but the odds were back to square. By the end of that over, the two batters had heavily tilted the scale towards the Netherlands.
A six down the ground from Nidamanuru and a slapped four from Paul van Meekeren meant Ryan Evans would have four to defend in his final over. While all credit goes to Nidamanuru for the result, Muzarabani missed his length with almost every delivery in that pivotal over.
The only chance Zimbabwe had in the final over of thwarting the Netherlands’ charge came off Evans’ third ball to Van Meekeren. Looking to finish the game, Van Meekeren whacked the ball into the offside, straight at Gary Ballance’s head at cover. Should he have taken it? Probably. But he did well to avoid a trip to the dentist, hospital or both by tipping the ball over his shoulder, given the power on the shot.
Two off four. Dot ball. Two off three. Pressure back on the Netherlands. A single brought Van Meekeren on strike and levelled the scores. Pressure back on Zimbabwe. The commentator reminded those watching that the super over was in play. Taking his time, Evans lumbered into Van Meekeren, who hooked it off his nose. The batters knew before anyone else.
Van Meekeren bellowed and punched his bat, the rest of the Netherlands’ side jubilant on the balcony. The two batters embraced in the middle of the field, celebrating a remarkable heist. As Nidamanuru walked off the pitch, he drank in the attention of the cameraman walking backwards two paces in front of him. Perhaps the nicest touch was Van Meekeren insisting Nidamanuru walked off the field on his own. “Your time, your time,” he told him as they neared the boundary rope. Every one of his teammates hugged him with incredulous smiles on their faces.
In the post-match interview grinning from ear to ear, Nidamanuru said: “You dream about moments like this. Being able to win the game and see it through, that doesn’t happen too often. I’m extremely proud, and I’m proud to be wearing this orange shirt.”
The shirt looked more red in the fading light, but the sentiment mattered. The Netherlands so seldom get to play away from home in full ODIs that this kind of opportunity is a rarity. A brilliant match made so by a defiant, dogged and high-class innings.
Photo Credit @KNCBcricket Twitter