The second round of the 2015-17 Intercontinental Cup begins on Tuesday in the Hague, where World T20 Qualifier co-champions Netherlands and Scotland square off.
Netherlands might have more riding on the game considering their first-round defeat to Papua New Guinea, who had chased down a fourth-innings target of 305 to win on their first-class debut in June. A victory over Scotland would not only get the hosts' 2015-17 campaign back on track, it would be somewhat historic: they have never beaten Scotland in five I-Cup matches, with three draws sandwiched around two losses. Scotland won by an innings and 59 runs in 2007 in Aberdeen. Three years later, despite captain Peter Borren's century, Netherlands suffered a four-wicket loss at Deventer.
Borren, though, is hoping to reverse his side's fortunes starting tomorrow. "Our four-day cricket has been a disappointment to me for some time," he said on the eve of the game. "Our white-ball cricket has been great, but we haven't cracked the longer version. Four-day cricket is difficult, I would love to see an improvement in the mental application that the format requires. Other than the 20 points, I would really love to see our batters spend entire sessions at the crease and to see our bowlers come back hard in their third spells of the day."
Scotland come into the match looking to overtake joint leaders Ireland and Namibia, each of whom claimed a full 20 points with wins over UAE and Hong Kong in the first round. Scotland, though, had to settle for first-innings points against Afghanistan in a rain-marred draw at Stirling.
Captain Preston Mommsen top-scored with 77 in the first innings and has been in solid form all summer. Mommsen stressed it was important to capitalise in the early rounds of the Intercontinental Cup to gain as many points as possible in the quest for Test status.
"Indeed, this competition now creates a pathway to Test cricket, so every game we play, every point we can take, will be crucial to us moving closer to Test cricket," Mommsen said. "We have to remain focused on playing solid and consistent cricket. There's no point looking too far ahead, but, of course, that remains a bigger goal for this team."
Scotland will receive a strong boost with several players, who were absent this summer, returning to the squad. Foremost among them is Matt Machan, with 892 runs at an average of 42.47 in the County Championship this season, including three centuries and a career-best 192 in July. On the bowling front, Josh Davey, whose 15 wickets at the World Cup was the best by a Scottish player, also comes back into the four-day squad.
"We have some special talent coming through, especially with the ball, so we're looking forward to seeing how our younger players develop over the next few years as they start to get more and more opportunities," Mommsen said. "This is a team that definitely has the skills and ability to play a winning brand of cricket in the longer version of the game. It's been very positive, and we've shown a lot of intent. There's no reason why certain aspects of our white-ball game cannot be transferred into our four-day cricket. We have an exciting squad and we will continue to adopt that style of cricket."
While Mommsen's side has been bolstered, Borren's will be depleted. Michael Swart will not be among Netherlands' number and Ben Cooper takes his place. The elder Cooper, Tom, remains tied to Somerset till the end of the month. Timm van der Gugten, who has been on the fringes of the Tasmania state side in Australia, is a key withdrawal after taking 6 for 29 in the first innings of the loss to Papua New Guinea.
So Paul van Meekeren will shoulder the extra responsibility, leading the seam-bowling unit alongside Mudassar Bukhari, while 20-year-old Vivian Kingma is a candidate to fill van der Gugten's spot. Roelof van der Merwe, who became eligible shortly before the World Twenty20 Qualifier but did not play against PNG, has been included for this series.
The forecast in The Hague is clear and sunny throughout the week, which means that the likelihood of a draw due to weather interruptions is unlikely.
Netherlands (probable): 1 Stephan Myburgh, 2 Michael Rippon, 3 Ben Cooper, 4 Max O'Dowd, 5 Wesley Barresi (wk), 6 Peter Borren (capt.), 7 Roelof van der Merwe, 8 Mudassar Bukhari 9 Pieter Seelaar, 10 Paul van Meekeren, 11 Vivian Kingma
Scotland (probable): 1 Kyle Coetzer, 2 Hamish Gardiner, 3 Preston Mommsen, 4 Matt Machan, 5 Richie Berrington, 6 Matthew Cross (wk), 7 Josh Davey, 8 Con de Lange, 9 Rob Taylor, 10 Safyaan Sharif, 11 Alasdair Evans
Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna