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Cricket One Day International 21 March 2023

Zimbabwe vs Netherlands - Match Preview

Whilst the majority of the world devotes their attention to the upcoming IPL and the ongoing India-Australia series, two proud nations Zimbabwe and Netherlands take steps towards building their form towards the upcoming ODI World Cup Qualifier tournament to take place in a couple of months’ time. All three ODIs will be played at the Harare Sports Club with the first one scheduled for Tuesday morning local time.

This series is one of the final sojourns of the condemned World Cup Super League, and with two sides rock bottom of the 13-team ladder would have been a crucial relegation battle were the league to be continued beyond 2023. But with no chance for either team of qualifying directly for the World Cup via the Super League, this series is nothing but a namesake. Yet, there is so much context to be enjoyed as these two have already booked their places in the upcoming World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe from 18th June to 9th July.

The hosts made the first move by announcing a full-strength squad, signalling their intentions to make these preparations worth the wait. Their best player of recent times – both with the bat and ball – Sikandar Raza returns from his globetrotting around the world of franchise T20 cricket. There’s also Sean Williams, Tendai Chatara, Blessing Muzarabani returning from injuries and Ryan Burl after he played some franchise cricket of his own. The first three all were sorely missed in February’s home Test series against the West Indies.

Now that they have assembled the best of their lot, Zimbabwe will hope to get their record at this venue straight. They have lost 11 of their last 14 completed ODIs at the Harare Sports Club and with those coming against India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Ireland – Zimbabwe have a lot of queries to answer. The Netherlands were the last associate nation they met in this format when losing two away ODIs in Deventer in 2019.

The Netherlands have a longer search for answers as they haven’t won an ODI since June 2021, going on a run of 15 losses in completed ODIs hence. With nine of those coming while chasing and in different magnitudes of loss margins – four defeats by seven wickets or more alongside four defeats by 75 runs or worse – the Netherlands haven’t been able to find their mojo batting either first or second.

That could probably have to do with the fact that they haven’t been able to play ODIs regularly outside of this one-off Super League and in fact the last time they played any was in August 2022 away against Pakistan. Two things they could take heart in are the positive record they have against Zimbabwe having won two of their three H2H ODIs, whilst they were able to scrape through for a nine-run win against a Zimbabwe XI (191 to 182) thanks to 84 from Musa Ahmed and a four-wicket haul to Paul van Meekeren.

📋 Players to watch: Zimbabwe spearhead bowler Blessing Muzarabani has 13 wickets from nine ODIs at this venue, managing to take 2+ scalps in alternating ODIs in four of his last eight ODIs including his last here. The Netherlands will look to their talismanic all-rounder Bas de Leede who has scored at least 25 in five of his last seven ODIs.

Stat attack: Nine of the last 13 completed ODIs at this venue were won by the chasing side.

The historical average first innings score at this venue is 230 which increases to 259 over the last eight completed ODIs.

Zimbabwe have lost six of their last eight completed ODIs under Craig Ervine’s captaincy.

Only two players have scored more runs at this venue than Sikandar Raza’s 1,507. Three of his last eight completed ODI innings have been centuries, while four of the other five have been 25 or fewer.

Zimbabwe's opening partnership has failed to make 30+ runs in all 12 ODIs played in Harare since the start of 2022 (average 10.42).

The Netherlands have a W11, L9 win-loss record in ODIs they played in Africa.

Fred Klaasen has taken 2+ wickets in ten of his 14 ODIs for the Netherlands.

South Africa vs West Indies - Match Preview

After a rain-induced false start on Thursday, East London’s Buffalo Park finally got its time to shine, and so too did the West Indies. Fielding four debuting players (three batters and one bowler), South Africa conceded 335+ runs for a third-straight ODI bowling inning in 2023 and, for a second consecutive time, couldn’t carry a strong start with the bat through the second half of the innings. Consequently, it means that the Proteas will soon complete a stretch of 13 ODI series without back-to-back series triumphs, following their 2-1 win over England in January.

ODI captain Temba Bavuma has certainly taken his game to a new level in recent months, albeit without the kind of consistency he has been desiring for several years. Having now seen their skipper post centuries in two of his last three ODIs, Proteas fans can begin to dream again of a captain who can lead from the front on a game-by-game basis. Describing Saturday’s loss as a “valuable experience”, particularly for the trio of bowlers who have fewer than ten ODI caps each, Bavuma was left to lament conceding a 300+ score despite the side taking three wickets within the first 11 overs. Ironically, it was the least experienced bowlers who came out with the best figures, led by Gerald Coetzee’s 3/57.

Ahead of their two remaining World Cup Super League games against the Netherlands that they must win to have any chance of securing automatic qualification for the World Cup, Bavuma confirmed on the weekend that Anrich Nortje will not be returning for this third ODI in Potchefstroom, leaving Lizaad Williams, Sisanda Magala, Wayne Parnell and Andile Phehlukwayo as the bench options they could turn to if rotation is desired.

Considering they’re almost certain to have to get to the ODI World Cup via the global qualifier for a second time running, the West Indies must be rapt to have picked up what was just the second win from their last 13 ODIs as they look towards taking on weaker albeit still determined opposition. Even better was that their notoriously pedestrian new ODI captain Shai Hope was able to accelerate when required, spearheading the addition of 151 runs from their final 20 overs rather than holding it back as he has often done in the past.

It was a winning debut as ODI skipper for Hope, who also retained the gloves and now averages a handsome 50 as wicketkeeper in the format with a better than the one-in-three rate of 50+ scores per innings. Whilst that may suggest he’s due for a failure here, Hope has strung together three consecutive 50+ run performances three times previously and he has vowed to “embrace the responsibility” of captaincy. He was full of praise for his fielders, batting partners that allowed the team to build three 50+ run partnerships on a slow pitch that appeared difficult to settle in on, and even his adversary Bavuma.

New captains often offer the promise of a new era for the team, but confidence can only come from on-field results. The West Indies came to South Africa having lost seven consecutive ODI series, excluding the 3-0 sweep of associate nation Netherlands last year, but the team now have a golden opportunity to take an enormous step forward with a 2-0 victory, having already ended a run of seven straight bilateral ODI series losses to the Proteas.

📋 Key battle: Considering he hadn’t played for more than one month, South African wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock was very sharp when scoring 48 at a scoring rate of 11rpo. He plundered 31 runs from 13 balls bowled by seamer Alzarri Joseph, who had the last laugh with three wickets including the final one of the match. Joseph has now claimed 2+ wickets in ten of his last 15 ODIs.

Stat attack: Potchefstroom has hosted just four ODIs since the start of 2010, which all saw the team batting second successfully chase scores of under 270.

South Africa’s last six opening partnerships in home ODIs were all worth at least 46 runs each (76, 49, 77, 61, 46, 86).

When excluding shortened matches, every first innings score of 270+ in Potchefstroom was a winning one (six times) whilst the remaining 11 of fewer than 270 runs resulted in ten losses and a tie.

Since the start of the 2015 ODI World Cup, Jason Holder has accumulated career figures of 3/270 from 43 overs (6.28rpo) against South Africa.

Marco Jansen has conceded at least 5rpo in all of his six career ODIs, averaging one wicket per innings.

Rovman Powell has recorded just one half-century from 25 away ODI innings, now averaging 20.39 after his 46 in the previous game.

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