Sloppy Pakistan face litmus test
Tuesday, June 9
Start time 13:30 local (12:30 GMT)
Who'd have thunk it, that Pakistan and Netherlands would be taking on each other in a group game in which Pakistan might do and still die? Such has been the way with this strangest of groups but clarity has now emerged. Netherlands, to progress and thus consign Pakistan to a fate they seem worryingly resigned to, can afford to lose, but by no more than 24 runs. If Pakistan chase, then they must do so with roughly three overs to spare.
The problems are Pakistan's. Not for a moment since they landed in England have they looked like a team that is playing in a World Cup. Younis Khan's bizarre, careless dismissal of the format and the tournament seems to have filtered through to the side. Anyway you'd think, given their lack of international games recently, that Pakistan would be itching to rip through a Ramadan 20/20 night tournament in Karachi's Pakistan Chowk, let alone a World Cup. The attitude is, however, only the most overarching concern: on the field, they are the worst fielding side, have an unsettled batting order and are rusty with the ball. Beyond that, they're fine.
Netherlands, on the other hand, have accorded this tournament the respect it deserves and have shown, with that fabulous opening win, just why the format is celebrated. As well as skill, the Netherlands will remind one and all, Twenty20 rewards discipline, hard work and bravery. The problem for them, of course, is to recreate the intensity of Friday, something which often proves beyond associate nations and lower-ranked sides.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
Watch out for
Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul have looked the only players up for a battle so far and on their eight overs, will rest most of Pakistan's Super Eights aspirations. Netherlands will not have much experience of Ajmal's doosra and Gul's arrow-straight, pacy yorkers are a handful for most.
Pakistan have a long history of bouncer-induced trauma adding Sunday's defeat to England to the list. If there is bounce still Lord's, you can be sure Dirk Nannes will be utilising it. He has the pace and natural angle to trouble them, but that he makes such a good story - Japanese-speaking, saxophone playing wanderer who took to the game late - means that he is a headline (not a good one for Pakistan) in waiting.
Pakistan will make changes, most likely dropping Salman Butt and possibly pushing Kamran Akmal in his place. Sohail Tanvir may also get in, his unusual angles and action, worth confusing the Netherlands with.
Pakistan: (probable) 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Younis Khan (capt), 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Yasir Arafat, 8 Sohail Tanvir, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Saeed Ajmal.
Given that the win against England was their biggest one yet, there are unlikely to be any changes from that starting XI.
Netherlands: (probable) 1 Alexei Kervezee, 2 Darron Reekers, 3 Ba Zuiderent, 4 Tom de Grooth, 5 Peter Borren, 6 Ryan ten Doeschate, 7 Daan van Bunge, 8 Edgar Schiferli, 9 Jeroen Smits (capt/wk), 10 Pieter Seelaar, 11 Dirk Nannes.
Pitch and conditions
Unfortunately for Pakistan, rain is forecast, but the Lord's pitch has offered both runs and movement off the seam.
Stats and trivia
- 25 - The least number of runs Pakistan must win by if they bat first to go through to the Super Eights.
- 7-0-73-1 - The combined figures of Pakistan's opening bowlers Yasir Arafat and Mohammad Aamer against England.
- 8-0-63-1 - The combined figures of Netherlands' opening bowlers Dirk Nannes and Edgar Schiferli against England.
"It would be sad if we don't make it, but I have never attached too much importance to Twenty20 cricket, as it is fun cricket. I mean it is more for entertainment, even if it is international cricket. It is all for the crowd."
Younis Khan, Pakistan's captain, after the England loss.
"Cricket is no longer so boring."
Headline in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad after the side's opening-day victory over hosts England in the World Twenty20.
Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo