Two teams who have emerged as the cricketing world’s “2nd teams” in the ongoing tournament, Netherlands and Afghanistan have so far put up their best-ever ICC tournament performances.
Afghanistan, who has won only 1 game in their first 17 CWC matches, have now won 3 of their last 4 games at the grandest stage.
On the other hand, the Netherlands have gone toe-to-toe with the big guns, now aiming to make it into the 2025 Champions Trophy for which they have to finish in the top 8 of the points table.
Exceeding expectations in the first 4 games which included a victory over South Africa, the Netherlands were given a hard reality check when the 5-time champions demolished them through a 309-run victory at Dharamshala. From an outsider’s point of view, spirits seemed to be down in the Netherlands camp, never more than when they were 107/5 against Bangladesh at what seemed to be an away game for the Dutch.
However, Scott Edwards had other plans. His crucial 68 runs propelled Netherlands to a respectable total, and the Dutch bowling, led by Van Meekeren’s 4fer ensured it was a thumping win for them, a margin of 87 runs.
According to recent developments, the Top 8 nations in the CWC 23 points table will be the only participating teams at the 2025 Champions Trophy along with hosts Pakistan.
This is a golden opportunity for the Netherlands to book their tickets for what will be their first-ever ICC Champions trophy tournament
A team which always finds itself on the wrong side of close encounters, their opening game loss against Bangladesh had convinced many that it will be yet another below-expectation ICC tournament for Afghanistan. But wins against England, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, now mean Afghanistan have an outside shot of making it to the top 4!
Their middle order, arguably their biggest weakness before the tournament, has stepped up on the big stage, playing a huge role in their previous 2 victories.
Their encounter against Australia will be crucial but to ensure they are in the hunt when that match takes place, they first need to take care of the Netherlands at Ekana.
Probable Playing XI
Netherlands: Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh, Wesley Barresi, Colin Ackermann, Bas De Leede, Scott Edwards, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Logan Van Beek, Roelof Van Der Merwe, Aryan Dutt, Paul Van Meekeren
The only obvious change from the Netherlands’ latest victory seems to be Roelof making his way back into the team, after having missed the previous match due to illness, in place of Shariz who bowled only 2 overs in his WC debut match.
Other than that, Max O’Dowd’s performance so far has been terrible, averaging 10.17 in his 6 games so far.
Ryan Cook might bring in Teja, and ask the in-form Barresi to open, a role he essenced in the 2011 World Cup
Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz, Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah, Hasmatullah Shahidi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Noor Ahmed, Fazal Haq Farooqi
Noor Ahmed bagged the MOTM award against Pakistan in his debut CWC match and was dropped for the next game for Farooqi who in turn won his first MOTM of the tournament.
With the match happening at Ekana, Afghanistan will likely stick to their “horses for courses” mantra, and the bowler who will have to sit out this time will probably be Naveen-Ul-Haq, who has been expensive throughout the tournament.
Other than that, Ikram Akhil picked up an injury against Sri Lanka and there’s no certainty on whether he will be available at Lucknow. If he isn’t, Najibullah, who was dropped after the opening match, will likely replace him.
Ekana, the “bowlers haven” of IPL 2023, lived up to this tag in the England vs India game. India defeated the defending Champs by 100 runs, despite scoring 229 in the first innings
New-ball Pacers are expected to enjoy the lateral movement on display such as the English bowlers who had been whacked mercilessly in the overs 1-10 prior to the match.
Spinners will get the ball to grip and turn, and will probably out-punch their pacer counterparts by just an inch.
Expect the Dutch part-time spinners to bowl more than usual, and Afghanistan to play their 4-man spin attack.
Players To Watch Out For
Rashid Khan: The face of Afghanistan Cricket, Rashid has usually struggled against the bigger sides in ODIs, and his current tournament too hasn’t been extraordinary though his economy of 4.88 has kept the opposition in check. He might have picked up more wickets if not for the terrible fielding of Afghanistan (Rashid has 2 dropped catches off his bowling against New Zealand).
A pitch like Ekana is the exact strip which can help Rashid exhibit his skills and pick up the wickets which he has been looking for throughout the tournament.
Paul Van Meekeren: Resorting to a job as an Uber Eats driver during the COVID pandemic, Paul has had an unreal rise in his cricketing career. The 8th joint-highest taker of the tournament, Paul has made great use of cross-seam in the middle overs, becoming a real enforcer for the team in the middle phase, a phase where the Dutch have struggled in the past. His performances were rewarded through a MOTM award against Bangladesh and he would want to extend this streak against another Asian side.
Azmatullah Omarzai: Having played only 13 ODIs prior to the tournament, Omarzai has been a revelation for Afghanistan in CWC 23.
203 runs @50.75 with a strike rate of 97.6, Omarzai has been an integral force in sorting out Afghanistan’s middle-order conundrums. Add to that he has also picked up 5 wickets so far.
Omarzai’s name shines amongst the various finds of the tournament and he would want to keep up his good form against the Netherlands.
NED vs AFG Dream11 Team for Match 34 of 2023 WC
Note: This is not our final Dream11 Team as we are not aware of the Toss Result/Final Playing XI of both teams at this moment.
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