First ODI at Centurion rained out as new Covid-19 variant threatens series
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Johannesburg — The fate of the One-Day series between South Africa and the Netherlands will be determined over the weekend, after a drama-packed Friday, in which the action on the field played second fiddle to the talks taking place off it.
The opening ODI was abandoned on Friday afternoon, due to rain, which had started falling in Centurion shortly after the Dutch had started their pursuit of South Africa's healthy target of 278.
In a statement made through Cricket SA, the Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond said it would continue to monitor the situation, following the announcement Thursday that a new, reportedly more potent strand of the Covid-19 virus had been identified and was taking hold in Gauteng.
The Netherland’s SA embassy tweeted that a travel ban had been implemented for flights departing South Africa. The KNCB confirmed that it was “highly unlikely that the team will be able to fly out of South Africa over the weekend.”
“A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered,” the CSA statement read.
On the field, before the rain, Pieter Seelaar’s team had equipped themselves impressively, displaying the fighting attributes he said they would, allied with good planning and skill.
They had created pressure at the start of the home team’s innings after Seelaar had inserted them upon winning the toss, by dismissing both openers, Reeza Hendricks (6) and Janneman Malan (16) by the seventh over thanks to left-arm seamer Fred Klaassen.
It took a partnership of 119 runs for the third wicket between debutant Zubayr Hamza and Kyle Verreynne, playing just his ninth ODI, to initially steady the ship, and then regain the initiative for the Proteas.
Hamza looked understandably nervous, with the Dutch new ball bowlers preying on his anxiety and it was up to his Western Province teammate to give the innings some momentum. Verreynne, who said this week, he wanted to use the opportunity in the series to make a claim for a spot in the 2023 World Cup squad, was busy early on, nudging singles on both sides of the wicket and driving clinically down the ground when the Dutch pitched the ball up.
Being short of stature, his cutting and pulling are naturally good, and he relieved some of the strain on his teammate at the start. Hamza got his innings going with a deliciously flicked six off St. Stithians graduate, Brandon Glover, and then proceeded to drive elegantly for much of his innings. The running between the wickets was another standout feature of the pair’s partnership.
With the exception of one dropped catch by Stephan Myburgh when Verreynne was on 18 - a difficult chance low and to his left - the Dutch fielding was of high quality.
Hamza fell for 56 (5x4, 1x6), miscuing a pull of Glover in the 29th over, which was the start of a period in which the Dutch asserted control of the game. Seelaar made good use of his spinners to pin down David Miller, while Khaya Zondo, making his return to the international scene for the first time in three years, was bowled by Roelof van der Merwe.
Verreynne’s inexperience showed in that period as he struggled to balance the importance of keeping the scoreboard ticking while also growing understandably tense as he closed in on a maiden international century.
He fell five runs short, flummoxed by a slower ball from Vivian Kingma, which he sent straight to Bas de Leede at deep backward square leg. Verreynne took 112 balls to make his 95, which included nine fours and a six.
South Africa was in danger of getting bowled out, but stand-in skipper Keshav Maharaj and Andile Phehlukwayo shared an invaluable partnership of 68 runs for the eighth wicket off only 38 balls.
Phehlukwayo, who needs a big series to re-establish himself at international level, smashed six sixes and a four in a 22-ball innings that saw him make 48. Maharaj was not out on 18, as South Africa scored 64 runs in the last five overs.
The fate of the remaining matches remains undecided as the coronavirus pandemic once again put sport and the country on notice.
South Africa 277/8 (Kyle Verreynne 95, Zubayr Hamza 56, Fred Klaassen 2/45, Vivian Kingma 2/49)
Netherlands 11/0 (2 overs)
No Result - Rain