New Zealand wary of 'rocks or diamonds' Netherlands
Match factsMarch 29, 2014, Chittagong
Start time 1530 (0930GMT)
Things couldn't be tighter in Group 1, where the big four sides have cancelled each other out in a neat little cycle: New Zealand beat England beat Sri Lanka beat South Africa beat New Zealand. With little to separate the sides, net run-rate could become exceedingly important. But before that can happen, two more teams have to get past Netherlands.
Sri Lanka cleared that hurdle with ridiculous ease; South Africa nearly tripped themselves up. Which Netherlands are New Zealand going to draw? The Netherlands who froze in the glare of Sri Lanka's headlights or the Netherlands who, according to their captain Peter Borren, should have beaten South Africa "pretty comfortably" if they had played "anywhere near 100 per cent"?
"The way the Dutch are playing, I think it's incredibly courageous, rocks or diamonds, so to speak," New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum said. "They're either going to come off or they're not. It takes balls to play like that, and it's why they're a dangerous team to play against.
"They don't fear the losing side of things or if it doesn't work out, playing that style, so we've prepared well today and we'll see what we come up with tomorrow. Hopefully, if we play well, we should be strong enough for them."
On Thursday, South Africa played some casual shots, promoted an allrounder who has been in and out of the team ahead of their most in-form batsman, lost their way in the middle and late overs, and put themselves in a position where defeat seemed imminent.
In short, they showed New Zealand how not to approach this match. New Zealand will want to win, win big, and raise their net run-rate, but they won't want to start the match with that outcome foremost in their minds. To use a couple of clichés, they will need to focus on the processes and play it one ball at a time.
Form guide(completed matches, most recent first)
New Zealand LWWWL
Watch out for
After Thursday's game, New Zealand are likely to view Netherlands with vigilance, and look to iron out any casualness from their play. In the other two formats, this should be enough for the gulf in quality and experience between the two sides to shine through. In T20, even one player can have a disproportionate influence on the result. For Netherlands, that player is Stephan Myburgh. Their batting fortunes could well revolve around how long he stays at the crease.
One of New Zealand's interesting strategies at this tournament has been their choice of Kane Williamson as opener. Williamson isn't the first name that will spring to mind when you're asked to name a dangerous Twenty20 player, but he's shown great form so far, scoring an important quickfire 24 in the rain-interrupted chase against England and a career-best 35-ball 51 that set his team up nicely to go after a big target against South Africa.
Team newsNew Zealand will go into the game having enjoyed a four-day break. There is no news of any fitness concerns in their camp, but they might want to think of a couple of names that haven't featured on their team-sheets so far. Their bowling attack is heavily seam-oriented, and while that makes sense considering the likelihood of dew in case they field second, they lose out on variety if they need to change things around. With this in mind, they might think of including left-arm spinner Ronnie Hira or spin-bowling allrounder Anton Devcich. Jimmy Neesham is another option, if they want another seam-bowling allrounder in place of a specialist batsman in Colin Munro.
New Zealand: (likely) 1 Martin Guptill, 2 Kane Williamson, 3 Brendon McCullum (capt), 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Colin Munro/Jimmy Neesham, 6 Corey Anderson, 7 Luke Ronchi (wk), 8 Nathan McCullum, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Kyle Mills, 11 Mitchell McClenaghan
Netherlands have been unchanged throughout the tournament, and it's unlikely they'll make a change now, after their performance against South Africa.
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
Stats and trivia
- Brendon McCullum needs 21 runs to become the first batsman to score 2000 runs in T20 internationals.
- Ahsan Malik is the highest wicket-taker in T20Is in 2013-14. He has 18 wickets at an average of 11.05, and has an impressive economy rate of 6.45 this season.
Quotes"We had our chances and we didn't take them, so philosophically, so be it, we can't be too upset about it. We got ourselves in a very strong position to win that game, and the percentages were firmly in our favour and we coughed up that opportunity, so that's disappointing, but we can't do anything about it now, so we've got to focus on what's in front of us, that's Netherlands tomorrow and Sri Lanka a few days after."
New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum isn't dwelling on the heartbreaking defeat to South Africa
"We just really want to get a win or an upset at this tournament. We had a really good opportunity today [against South Africa], we've got two more opportunities and I really hope we can take one of those."
Netherlands captain Peter Borren wants to knock over one big team before going home
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo