Brandon Moyo, Sports Reporter
THE three-match One Day International (ODI) series between Zimbabwe and the Netherlands gets underway today with the first match at Harare Sports Club in what promises to be an interesting week of cricket between the two nations that have not played against each other a lot in the 50-over format of the game.
The series, which is part of the International Cricket Council (ICC) ODI Super League will be of paramount importance for the two nations who missed out on direct qualification for the World Cup which will be hosted by India in October.
Both teams will therefore be using the series as part of the World Cup Qualifiers that will be held in Zimbabwe in June when only two teams are expected to book the final slots to the global showpiece.
Zimbabwe named a full-strength squad for the series which will be bolstered by the return of five experienced players who missed the Chevrons’ Test series against West Indies last month due to various reasons.
The five are Sikandar Raza, Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Ryan Burl and Blessing Muzarabani.
“It’s great to have the whole team back and everyone fighting fit. It’s naturally our intention to win the series, however, in doing so, it is also an opportunity to try out different combinations to achieve that goal, with an eye on the upcoming World Cup qualifier tournament,” said Zimbabwe head coach Dave Houghton.
Raza, who became the second Zimbabwean to win the Pakistan Super League (PSL) after his side Lahore Qalandars were crowned champions on Saturday will be a crucial member of Houghton’s team as they look to overcome the Dutch whom they have beaten once in three games.
“There is a time to say and a time to say bye and some ‘goodbyes’ are tough and this surely feels as one of those. Thank you, Pakistan, for showing me and my time so much love but it’s time to go home and be ready for the next ODI series. See you soon Zimbabwe Cricket family,” Raza posted on his Twitter as he is set to join the Chevrons camp.
The Chevrons and Netherlands have played each other three times in ODIs and the latter have won two of those fixtures. In 2019, the Dutch whitewashed Zimbabwe 2-0 in Netherlands, winning the first match by seven wickets (D/L method) and the second game by three wickets.
Zimbabwe’s win against Netherlands came in 2003 in a World Cup match played at Queens Sports Club where the hosts recorded a convincing 99 runs triumph.
With Zimbabwe welcoming five players, their opponents will also see the return of South Africa born Roelof van der Merwe who will be in line to play his first 50-over game for the Dutch since November 2021.
Van der Merwe has played 16 ODIs in total, 13 for South Africa as well as three for Netherlands and comes in after a successful T20 World Cup for Netherlands and SA20 in South Africa.
On Sunday, Zimbabwe XI lost their warm up match against the visitors by nine runs despite fine knocks by Brian Bennett and Nyasha Mayavo who scored 53 and 47 runs respectively. Zimbabwe XI bowled out Netherlands for 191 runs in 42.2 overs before they were wiped out for 182 in 34.5 overs. — @brandon_malvin