ICC Intercontinental Cup 2006-07 November 20, 2006

Netherlands prepare for must-win encounter

Cricinfo staff

Netherlands must beat Bermuda in the latest Intercontinental Cup match at Pretoria on Tuesday if they are to have a hope of replacing Canada at the top of Group B.

The winner of the group will gain a spot in the final and it's Canada who are sitting pretty with a maximum 40 points from two matches, having dispatched both Bermuda and Kenya earlier this year. A draw for Netherlands against Kenya meant they took just six points from the 20 on offer.

But it's not too late to make amends - should Netherlands defeat Bermuda they will head to a winner-takes-all match against Canada in the final group match in December at the same venue, with the winner progressing to the final.

Netherlands' hopes of defeating Bermuda will be boosted by the Bermudans' recent indifferent form: they had a disappointing tour of Kenya and they may be missing Lionel Cann. However, their captain Clay Smith is back from a hamstring injury.

Still, it's the weather that's most likely to scupper Netherlands' hopes, with heavy rainfall on the Highveld in recent days. Outfields are sodden and squares unplayable, as South Africa and India know to their cost: their opening one-dayer in nearby Johannesburg was washed out on Sunday and the forecast in the area is not good for the remainder of the week.

And the Netherlands coach Peter Cantrell revealed that the players haven't been able to have much outside practice. "Most of our guys haven't had a bat or bowl on grass since the end of August," he said.

But they do have some players hitting form. Daan van Bunge was one of the stars of the recent ICC Winter Training Camp in Pretoria, with three half-centuries in five innings against South Africa provincial opposition.

Ryan ten Doeschate has en excellent average of 121 in this competition, while in Luuk van Troost, Bas Zuiderent and Alex Kervezee the Netherlands have three matchwinners.