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Dutch face a pace test from buoyant Proteas

With odds heavily loaded against them, the Netherlands are looking to stretch South Africa in their third World Cup match here on Thursday. Ashutosh Sharma reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 03, 2011 00:41 IST
Ashutosh Sharma

With odds heavily loaded against them, the Netherlands are looking to stretch South Africa in their third World Cup match here on Thursday.

Netherlands skipper Peter Borren is also under no illusion and after suffering a crushing 215-run defeat against West Indies, he wants an improved performance. “It will be an opportunity to correct mistakes from the previous games. We have our standards to live up to. We won't prepare any differently for this game. Against West Indies, we did not deliver and would like to do well here,” he said.

Historically, both the teams have met twice in the World Cup with South Africa winning both the times. They won in 2007 by a 221-run margin and by 160 runs in 1996.

Although South Africa are overwhelming favourites, the Netherlands cannot be termed as whipping boys. They proved their worth against England, stretching their European counterparts to the full duration.

The Proteas, who will be playing their second game, will look at this as an opportunity to keep the momentum going. Coach Corrie van Zyl did not confirm any changes in the squad but said they will go in with the strongest combination possible.

“We are not underestimating anyone. We will look at the conditions and then decide the final eleven,” he said.

Meanwhile, the overcast conditions prevailed and there was sporadic rain. The weather and Netherlands' susceptibility against pace bowling might prompt the Proteas to go in with one spinner and three pacers on a wicket which is likely to support pace and bounce.

While Dale Steyn, in all probability, will be available for selection, South Africa might also include Lonwabo Tsotsobe as the third seamer in the squad.

“We have plenty of options available and will decide only on the match day,” Zyl added.

The pitch, which has been known to support movement in the morning, will play to the advantage of the Proteas if they bowl first. “The low temperatures in the morning will help pacers. So the side bowling first will have an advantage,” said PCA curator Daljeet Singh.

The match, although lopsided, with chances of upset unlikely, carries a lot of importance for the Netherlands. A good performance here will keep the team's morale high and would help them ahead when they take on supposedly weaker oppositions-Ireland and Bangladesh.