“No Dream is Ever Chased Alone”- Rahul Dravid.
The above quotation captures the current Netherlands cricketing side. The “Total Cricket” term has been adopted by Captain Edwards too, applauding it as the reason for the Netherlands upsetting South Africa.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka is the only team yet to register a win in the ongoing tournament.
On Saturday both of these teams face off at the Ekana Stadium in Lucknow; one of them looking to preserve its inspiring run whereas the other is trying to kick-start one of its own.
Having played good pockets of cricket, but eventually losing the plot of the bigger picture during their opening 2 matches, the Netherlands seemed to be down and out straightaway against South Africa, when they were reeling at 50/4. However, Captain Edwards’ 78* along with useful cameos from the tail-enders meant the Netherlands put up a respectable total though one which most expected to be chased down by the inform Protea batters. Well, the Dutch bowlers had different plans and their powerplay carnage, a phase in which they have been brilliant throughout the last few years, meant the Netherlands scripted an iconic victory at the picturesque Dharamsala.
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They came really close to defeating Sri Lanka earlier this year, falling short by just 21 runs and would want to make sure that experience isn’t relived this Saturday.
Sri Lanka came into the tournament with mixed results. They reached the Asia Cup 23 finals but were humiliated by India over there. Uncertain about what to expect from them, Sri Lankan fans must be disappointed with losses in their 3 opening matches.
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Blown away by the Protea batters at Delhi, fielding was their demise in Hyderabad whereas it was an overall breakdown except for the openers and Madhushanka against Australia. Missing their regular captain Shanaka, Sri Lanka may take some solace upon the fact they have already played at the Ekana and this experience may aid them on the 21st.
Probable Playing XI
Netherlands: Vikramjit Singh, Max O’Dowd, Colin Ackermann, Bas De Leede, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Teja Nidamanuru, Scott Edwards, Roelof Van Der Merwe, Logan Van Beek, Aryan Dutt, Paul Van Meekeran
Securing what was their 3rd win at the ODI World Cup stage, the Netherlands are most likely to go with the same XI. Again Wesley Barresi might find his way into the team, especially since the arena is Ekana where spinners have found extra aid compared to the other grounds.
He has a strike rate of 109 against them since the 2019 CWC and the fact that Engelbrecht is yet to make a mark for the Netherlands might see Barresi playing yet another CWC match in India,
Sri Lanka: Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Charith Asalanka, Dhanajaya De Silva, Dunith Wellalage, Chamira Karunaratne, Maheesh Theekshana, Matheesha Pathirana, Dilshan Madhushanka
A musical chair has ensued for the role of Madhushanka’s partnering pacer. Due to Pathirana and Rajitha’s economy touching nearly 10 in the opening 2 games, Lahiru was given a go in the 3rd match but he took this economy rate to 11.75. Thus Sri Lanka might go back to Pathirana who did well in the Asia Cup.
Karunaratne is another player whose spot may be in danger after a single game. Wellalage was sent above him against Australia with Chamika coming way down at no. 8. Thus Dushan Hemantha might be given a go, with respect to how the captain and coach believe the pitch is going to behave.
In a stadium where the average first innings score stood at 143.2 during IPL 23, fans weren’t sure what to expect of Ekana during the World Cup owing to its renovation. After 2 games, it is sure that Ekana is much more favourable towards the batsman compared to what we saw earlier in 2023, however, it hasn’t forgotten the spinners either. Zampa should be disappointed with how he performed given how Maxwell proved to be Australia’s best bowler against South Africa. Well, Adam made it up in the game against Sri Lanka with a Man of the Match winning 4fer. The Pacers seemed to find success at the later half of their innings with cutters.
Netherlands vs Sri Lanka will be the 3rd match within 10 days at Ekana, thus we might see a low-scoring thriller dominated by spinners of both sides.
Players to Look Out For
Scott Edwards: Netherlands’s 2nd highest run-getter in ODIs, Dutch fans were disappointed with Captain Scott’s output in the opening two games but he more than made up through his 69-ball 78*, entering the pitch when his team was 82/5. For people who have followed Netherlands cricket for the past couple of years, this wasn’t too much of a surprise. Averaging 41.25 with a strike-rate of 93.95, Scott is one of the few consistent batsmen in the entire of Netherland’s history.
He might consider promoting himself due to his phenomenal gameplay against spin. Look out for his sweep!
Kusal Mendis: Touted as the next big thing in Sri Lankan cricket, Kusal always lacked consistency, especially in the ODI format but 2023 seems to be his year. Impressing in the Asia Cup, Kusal took it to another level in the opening two games of CWC 23, scoring 198 runs from just 119 balls. It was disappointing how he couldn’t capitalize on the platform provided by the openers against Australia though it’s a golden chance for him to recover his golden run against the Netherlands this Saturday.
Dunith Wellalage: Emerging amongst the top performers of Asia Cup 2023, he has been terrible in the World Cup so far, forcing some to ponder if he was just a one-tournament wonder. But his past performances, although lacking in quantity, give us hope he will make a comeback against the Netherlands, especially if the pitch assists the spinners. Amongst his 21 wickets, he has already trapped ODI greats such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and David Warner and his matchup against Captain Edwards will be a battle to watch out for. He can also be a handy contributor down the order considering he opens the batting at the domestic circuit.
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