Cricket players celebrating with a high five. Cricket players celebrating with a high five.

South Africa set to face their nemesis of recent times

South Africa are all set to face a side that has been troubling them for the last two ICC white-ball World Cups. In 2022, The Dutch side defeated the Proteas and ended their hopes of making it to the semi-finals, and then a year later, they again got the better of them in the ODI World Cup in India. Now the two sides are ready to meet again and another victory for the Netherlands will surely confirm the threat they pose to the full members and will also take them to the top of Group D.

However, it’s not going to be a walk in the park as South Africa have arrived in this World Cup with arguably their best-ever T20 side. They thrashed Sri Lanka in their opening game after bowling them out for less than 90 runs and then chasing it in a fairly straightforward fashion. South Africa have every base covered, their openers are dynamic yet provide the stability they would need. The middle order is packed with power hitters with the likes of Heinrich Klaases, Tristan Stubbs, and David Miller.

Apart from the recent results against South Africa, another that could work for the Dutch side is the pitch condition at the Nassau Stadium in New York. The playing surface does not support big hitting from the word go and with the Dutch batters preferring to play the game the conventional way, they can take their time and build the innings. But they should be wary of the uneven bounce and the relentlessness of South African pace attack.

Anrich Nortje’s brilliant return to form against Sri Lanka could mean that Gerald Coetzee may have to wait for a few more games to get a chance. South Africa would not want to tweak much with their playing XI. Reezan Hendricks, who has the lowest strike rate amongst the top 6 batters for the Proteas would be in the spotlight for this game. Tristan Stubbs, Klassen, and Miller are likely to keep their spot and do what they do best, destroy bowling attacks. Newcomer Ottniel Baartman is also expected to feature alongside start pacer Kagiso Rabada, and allrounder Marco Jansen.

Looking at the playing conditions at the Nassau Stadium, the Netherlands may be tempted to include an extra pacer, however, they might have to shorten their batting depth for that, and against this South Africa attack, that would not be the best option. Micheal Levitt and Max O’Dowd are likely to open the innings for the Dutch side with Vikramjit Singh to come in at number three. Sybrand Engelbrecht, Captain Scott Edwards, Bas de Leede, and Teja Nidamanuru will be forming the middle order. The bowling attack will probably comprise Logan van Beek, Tim Pringle, Paul van Meekeren, and Vivian Kingma.

A new pitch will be making its debut for the match between South Africa and Netherlands and it will be under a lot of scrutiny. This same pitch will be later used for the big game between India and Pakistan. The ICC has acknowledged that the standards of pitches 1 and 4 have not been up to the mark and they have been working to make them more T20 cricket-friendly.