The Netherlands defended a modest total against Nepal at Kwekwe Sports Club to finish seventh in the CWCQ 2018, with Nepal – still on a high after being awarded ODI status – settling for a very creditable eighth.
On a sluggish track that made run-scoring perilous, the Dutch carved out 189/9 from their 50 overs and fought hard in the field to reel in the Nepalese chase. The left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe maintained his excellent tournament with the ball by claiming four more wickets to take his overall tally to 19, while fellow left-armer Pieter Seelaar chipped in with two.
The result will feel somewhat bittersweet for the Netherlands. They have flickered throughout the tournament and will look back on their campaign with a sense of what might have been.
Against the West Indies in the group stages, they were orchestrating a promising run chase until a sudden flurry of wickets before the rains came set them back behind the required DLS run rate. If the rain had moved in half an hour earlier, they would have gone through to the Super Sixes, with a legitimate shot at glory.
For Nepal, meanwhile, the tournament will be remembered as the moment they secured full ODI status for the first time, and while defeat in this final game will hurt, they have established themselves on the world stage. With a fervent public behind them, the future is exceedingly bright for Paras Khadka's men.
In the Netherlands' innings, Sompal Kami's four-wicket haul and two wickets each for Lalit Rajbanshi and Sandeep Lamichhane helped Nepal restrict their opponents to 189/9.
After electing to bat, the Netherlands were dealt an early blow when Wesley Barresi was dismissed for nought, and when Ben Cooper also followed for a duck, the Dutch had lost two wickets with just six runs on the board.
Their troubles deepened in the 10th over when, after a 31-run partnership for the third wicket with Max O'Dowd, captain Peter Borren (7) was caught by Lamichhane off Kami – the Nepal fast bowler claiming his third wicket to reduce the Dutch to 37/3.
When O'Dowd, the in-form opening batsman, was bowled by the teen sensation Lamichhane for 28 in the 14th over, the Netherlands were in trouble at 48/4.
Respite came when Bas de Leede and van der Merwe added 39 runs for the fifth wicket, restoring much-needed order before van der Merwe was caught and bowled by Rajbanshi for 25.
Thereafter the climb towards a respectable total was tortuous. But on a pitch increasingly tricky to score on, they were able to squeeze the Nepal batsmen.
Regular wickets checked Nepal's chase, and despite spirited hands from Khadka (22) and Dipendra Singh Airee (25), and a dashing turn from the No.8 Sompal Kami, whose 36 briefly gave Nepal hope, the Dutch held on, their final 45-run victory ensuring they take seventh place in a tournament that they will look back on with mixed feelings.