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The Preview by Firdose Moonda
March 26, 2014
Match factsMarch 27, 2014, Chittagong
This is the game South Africa have been waiting for. After tense finishes against two of the big guns in the group, they will see Netherlands as an opportunity to get through comfortably.
Faf du Plessis was respectful of Netherlands and even harked back to when they beat England at Lord's in 2009 but the truth is that the match against Sri Lanka cannot be ignored. Netherlands were made to look like the outsiders they are, an Associate among Test teams, and that kind of humiliation won't sit easily with any team.
That also means the only way for Netherlands is up. They know how much is on the line for them as far as reputation is concerned. It was them, ahead of Test-playing Zimbabwe and Associate darlings Ireland, who made it this far. To limp out in the manner they did against Sri Lanka would be a disservice to both those teams and themselves. Peter Borren said as much when the Dutch made it into the main draw and its time for them to justify that coup.
Qualification for the semi-finals will not be on Dutch minds but it will be etched into South African ones. The next two matches are must win for South Africa and even then, it could come down to net run-rate. They will want to win big against Netherlands to bolster theirs and to show they are serious contenders for a title that seems just out of their grasp at the moment.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first) South Africa WLLLLW
Watch out for
Netherlands batsmen were reduced to stickmen by Sri Lanka's bowlers and what stood out about their collapse was their struggles against variation and mystery bowlers. Sri Lanka's attack is packed with them, seamers and spinners, South Africa's has just one who can be unpredictable. Imran Tahir is South Africa's second highest-wicket-taker in the tournament and has their lowest economy rate, of 6.62. He has proved difficult for the Sri Lanka and New Zealand batsmen to pick and is using his wrong 'un with more discretion than he used to. While Dale Steyn and Lonwabo Tsotsobe are dangerous, Netherlands will know exactly what threats they pose - pace, swing and an effective slower ball. With Tahir, they won't, which could see him come even more into his own in this match.
South Africa's weakness is that their batting line-up has struggled to get going early on which will make the roles of Ahsan Malik and Timm van der Gugten important. The pair have been the key protagonists for the Dutch in both the wicket-taking and run-restricting departments. Before the Sri Lanka match, Malik had an economy rate of 6.08 and his six wickets came at an average of 12.00. Van der Gugten conceded at 7 an over and had four wickets and a mean yorker to his name. Knowing South Africa's problems with pressure, if the Dutch can impose it early on, they may fancy their chances of an upset.
Wayne Parnell had a good chance of playing in this match, after the way Morne Morkel was manhandled by New Zealand, but his attendance at a court case in Mumbai has ruled him out. That could create opportunity for left-arm seamer Beuran Hendricks to play in Morkel's place.
South Africa may also bench their captain du Plessis. Although he came through the New Zealand match well after recovering from a hamstring issue, du Plessis and the team were fined for slow over-rates, and South Africa may not want to risk him being suspended for what could be a decisive group stage match against England on Saturday.
South Africa:(likely) 1 Hashim Amla, 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis/JP Duminy 4 AB de Villiers, 5 JP Duminy/Farhaan Behardien, 6 David Miller, 7 Albie Morkel, 8 Dale Steyn 9, Morne Morkel/Beuran Hendricks, 10 Lonwabo Tsotsobe, 11 Imran Tahir
Netherlands have played the same XI in the four matches they've featured in so far but now some may see reason to change that. Borren hinted it is not likely, though. "We got bowled out for 39 and we can't make eleven changes. It would be tough on anyone to miss from that performance because everyone was responsible," he said. The Dutch only have on extra batsman in the squad, in Eric Szwarczynski but bringing him in may send the wrong message to the man benched.
Netherlands:(likely) 1 Stephan Myburgh, 2 Michael Swart, 3 Wesley Barresi (wkt), 4 Tom Cooper, 5 Peter Borren (capt), 6 Ben Cooper, 7 Mudassar Bukhari, 8 Logan van Beek, 9 Pieter Seelaar, 10 Timm van der Gugten, 11 Ahsan Malik
There are two clouds hanging over Chittagong, one literal and one figurative. At least the first one should not come into play. Despite storms lashing the city at night, Thursday is forecast to be sunny and clear with only a 10% probability of rain. The other one, how the surfaces will hold up after days of use, is yet to be seen. The stadium's seven surfaces are in rotation for this tournament to avoid any of them getting too tired and totals have remained high. Whether that will start dipping soon is what people will want to look out for.
Stats and trivia
"The days of big nations rocking up and thinking there are easy games in T20 cricket are gone. The shorter the game, the more opportunity there is for one or two guys gave to take the game away."
Underestimating the Associates is not something Faf du Plessis is willing to do
"I believe in this team and I hope we can show that in the next three games. It certainly won't be a case of damage limitation. I want to put a lot of onus and responsibility on the top six and see how many overs we can bat, that's really important."
Although Peter Borren was embarrassed by the Netherlands' defeat to Sri Lanka, he said the team will not skulk into the shells for the rest of their matches
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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