T20 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATIONS
The Netherlands beat the United States to seal their place. ©Getty
The Netherlands and Zimbabwe won their respective T20 Qualifier B semi-finals against the United States and Papua New Guinea to seal their place at the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia. Bas de Leede’s unbeaten 91* led the Dutch to a comfortable victory at Bulawayo Athletic Club, while a best-order team effort from Zimbabwe placed PNG exactly 200 to win at Queens – the Barramundis falling 28 points in below target despite Tony Ura’s 33. -ball 66 keeping the home crowd nervous for much of the chase.
De Leede was the undisputed star of the show at BAC even before he struck, winning two wickets, two catches and a run-out as the Dutch took over the United after Steven Taylor and captain Monank Patel had got the Americans off to a flying start. Taylor instead capitalized on his luck, due to most of his early runs at his outside edge, but Monank was more convincing as the two brought up the partnership of fifty inside five overs. From there the innings fell apart in a heap however, with Paul van Meekeren hitting the first ball of the sixth to eliminate Taylor, Monank shoveling a long jump from Shariz Ahmed to deep midwicket shortly after to go for 32 of 15, before the point ball pressure mounted sparked a series of soft dismissals and departures. Only number eight Nisarg Patel offered any real resistance before de Leede’s cannon arm coming from the depths sent him to death for 28 years.
The Dutch faced a modest but agonizing 139 chase to seal qualification, and when Saurabh Netravalkar called on Stephan Myburgh for a catch to cover three balls in the answer, it looked like there might be a game, but de Leede would settle the nervous Dutchman as he started to hit from the back of the power play. 22 points came out of Theron in the 6th and the 22-year-old never looked back. He would lose two partners along the way, with O’Dowd making a return to Nisarg Patel and Tom Cooper sending Cameron Stevenson straight to the deep square in the eighth, but de Leede himself never looked to struggle, crushing 3 sixes and 9s. four on his way to an undefeated 91. Skipper Scott Edwards battered alongside him throughout the chase as the Dutch cleared the runs with an over to spare.
At Queens, hosts Zimbabwe had racked up an impressive 199-5 in front of a raucous packed house, with all the best home players contributing with Wesley Madhevere’s 42 from 29, but the home crowd remained silent during the chase. as in-form Tony Ura threatened to stage a remarkable heist for the Papuans. Had they shown more discipline on the pitch, the Barramundi might have pulled off a remarkable upset. But aided by a bowling buffet and an unusually lax effort on the PNG pitch, the Zimbabweans had put too many points on the board. Asad Vala ended up using no less than eight bowlers over the innings, and while most would create chances, too many would be put down to slow the hosts down. Four of the five wickets to fall would be taken in the outfield as Craig Ervine, Madhevere, Sikandar Raza and Craig Williams all fell looking to capitalize on the advantage, and their adventurous approach meant PNG would have to win 200 in the hunt to book their tickets to Australia.
The Papuan response started inauspiciously as Lega Siaka ran out of first serve, the first of three wickets on the power play as PNG stumbled to 34-3. Ura was determined to make it a game, however, keeping his team ahead of the required pace with an unstoppable display of crisp strikes. It looked like his one-man show had ended in the 12th when he was caught by a wide full throw from Ngavara, but the ball pitch was flagged and instead he claimed his half-century. The fun would finally stop when he was knocked down by Williams for 66 from 35 with 61 still needed from the final five overs, much to the relief of virtually the entire stadium. From there the challenge would fade, with three more wickets falling as the tail fought for a creditable but losing aggregate of 172-8 at the end.
Zimbabwe and the Netherlands will meet at Queens in the final on Sunday, while PNG and the United States will play the bronze medal match at BAC. Earlier, Uganda held off Jersey to defend 110 in a low-scoring consolation playoff, meaning they will battle for 5th place against Hong Kong, who chased 147 against Singapore in the other match of the morning at the BAC.