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Singh and Engelbrecht see the Dutch home – Emerging Cricket

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Vikram Singh helps bat Netherlands to victory over hosts Nepal in the opening series of the Cricket World Cup League Two

An unbroken third-wicket stand of 102 between Vikram Singh and Sybrand Engelbrecht saw the Netherlands to an eight-wicket victory over Nepal in the final match of the League 2 tri-series in Kirtipur on Sunday, but that was the icing on a cake which had been baked earlier in the day with an outstanding effort in the field.

For the 21-year-old Singh it was a welcome return to the middle; he had sat out his side’s first three matches, and batting now at three he delivered an innings of great composure, neutralising the threat of Nepal’s spin attack after openers Max O’Dowd and Michael Levitt had seized the initiative with an opening partnership of 61 from 52 deliveries.

That the Dutch were chasing 173 for victory was due to sustained pressure in the field, especially from spinners Roelof van der Merwe and Aryan Dutt, who had tied down the home side’s batters after they, too, had promised to take control.

Kushal Bhurtel anchored the Nepal innings with an uncharacteristically subdued knock of 66 from 93 deliveries, batting through 36 overs as he watched six partners depart at the othetr end.

Viv Kingma again produced a fine opening spell, removing first the aggressive Aasif Sheikh for 17 and then an out-of-sorts Anil Sah, but the introduction of Dutt into the attack – unusually, it had been Van der Merwe who had shared the new ball – set the tone for the rest of the innings.

He trapped Kushal Malla in frtont with the final delivery of his first over, and then in a spell of seven overs he and Van der Merwe restricted Bhurtel and Rohit Paudel to just 12 runs before Dutt induced the Nepalese captain to mistime a pull, giving a straightforward catch to Noah Croes.

The home side were toiling, and they suffered another blow when Bhurtel drove Bas de Leede hard and straight, and the bowler accidentally deflected the ball into the stumps to leave Dipendra Singh Airee helplessly stranded.

It was the last thing Nepal needed, and when De Leede bowled Bhim Sharki in his next over they found themselves on 96 for six and facing another undefendably low total.

One specialist bowler short with Singh in the side in place of Shariz Ahmad, Edwards had turned to Levitt, and the medium-pacer delivered four tidy overs to maintain the pressure effectively.

Bhurtel, though, grafted his way to a ninth ODI half-century, and in company with Aarif Sheikh he kept the scoreboard moving until Van der Merwe cramped him up and accepted a simple return catch.

Dutt returned to remove Gulsan Jha, finishing with three for 16 from his ten overs in another superbly disciplined display of off spin and taking his tally for the series to 11 wickets at 12.27, but Aarif and Karan KC combined to add an invaluable 36 for the eighth wicket before Kingma and De Leede came back to finish off the innings.

Kingma’s three for 39 was his second three-wicket haul in as many matches, but it was Dutt and Van der Merwe, the latter taking one for 23 in his ten overs, who had restricted Nepal to 172, their best total of the series but at least 50 short of what they would have hoped to achieve.

Then came O’Dowd and Levitt’s opening onslaught, Levitt hitting three sixes back over the heads of Lalit Rajbanshi, Karan KC, and Malla and O’Dowd two as the pair took 55 off the first eight overs and got the asking rate below three an over.
Levitt belted another six off Airee, but when he tried again two balls later he was bowled for a 34-ball 39, and three overs later O’Dowd joined him back in the pavilion, caught behind by Aasif Sheikh off Rajbanshi for 28 from 26 deliveries.

That brought Engelbrecht in to join Singh, and together they capitalised on the openers’ hectic start, picking off the ones and twos and content with just one boundary apiece in the first ten overs of their partnership.

Paudel rotated his bowlers, but the Dutch batters were equal to every challenge, Singh punishing one Karan KC over with three fours as the target dropped below 50 with 23 overs remaining.

The left-hander went to fifty for the seventh time in 32 ODIs with another boundary off Malla, and three overs later Engelbrecht hit the winning single, ending on an unbeaten 46 from 75 deliveries; Singh had 58 not out from 92 balls, with seven fours.

Their second win in four games redeemed the series somewhat for the Dutch, whose next League 2 engagement will be against Canada and the USA at home in August; Nepal, intensely disappointed with just one victory at home this week, will travel to Canada in September to face Oman as well as their hosts.

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