Bangladesh v Netherlands, WT20 qualifier, Group A, Dharamsala March 8, 2016

Invisible batsmen help Netherlands prepare

Netherlands' bowlers have been sharpening their skills without a batsman in the way © IDI/Getty Images

Twenty20 nets are usually the testing ground for wacky new ideas; it is rare to see cricketers go to basics in T20 nets. As the Netherlands captain Peter Borren kept playing his reverse paddle sweeps against the spinners, the next net had no batsman. On the surface it might not seem another innovation, but bowlers usually bowl to just the stumps only to go back to the basics. To see an international team do that on the eve of a big tournament is rare.

All of Netherlands' bowlers went full pelt, bowled at the markers, and did their practice for an hour or so with no batsman in sight. This is usually done by bowlers looking to get back in rhythm, but Netherlands have realised the conditions in Dharamsala call for more old-school bowling and less variations. To get bowling old school is difficult if the batsmen are trying to dink and blast you.

"As a group we feel that getting the length right here at this ground is really important so we have put a lot of emphasis on this session," the Netherlands assistant coach Chris Adams told ESPNcricinfo. "We have been very specific about hitting the length. Spot bowling and very focussed and full out. To do that with a batsman at the other end is a bit of a distraction because then you are reacting to the batsman. To give them a session where they are running in full out 100% and hitting the lengths was something that we have identified."

Adams said it was not usual for teams to do so in the nets. "You do that but it is rare to do that in a net," he said. "It is mostly done out there in the middle. To do it over one hour in a net is rare. We wanted to get a really good session today. Getting that length right, to get a real good feel for it."

So what is that right length? Adams wasn't giving it away that easily. "I will keep that under my hat but if you have watched it you can work it out."

In the net the bowlers seemed to mostly bowl a Test length, looking to hit the top of off. "If you are always looking at the top of off you are never away from the best length on any pitch," Adams said. "On this ground more so it is important to hit that length and hit it hard. Good pace, good carry. I wouldn't get too carried away with too much variation here. The bowler who hits his straps and hits the good length and controls his line, he will be rewarded."

Borren agreed about the conditions. "There is a lot more pace and bounce than we have had on the tour so far," he said. "Those aren't things that necessarily that won't suit us. So we are pretty happy with that."

Borren also knows that it doesn't necessarily give his side an advantage against their first opponents. Bangladesh are no longer the one-dimensional spin-reliant side anymore. "We have watched a lot of videos," Borren said. "We have done our research. It has changed a lot. I have played them a few times, they have some serious seamers. Mustafizur is nice and I watched him bowl. Al Amin too is looking good. And include Shakib, they have a superb attack. We have to respect that and bank on the homework we have done."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Baundele on March 9, 2016, 6:50 GMT

    Bowling to a single stump without any batsman actually does wonder in correcting a bowler's line and length. Once that is mastered, the presence of a batsman helps adapting the bowler to the batsman.

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