The World Cup caravan rolls on, this time settling down at Hyderabad to host Netherlands vs Pakistan.
The majority of viewers might not have much expectations from the bout, however, this Netherlands side does have the potential to push any of the 9 teams to the brink and even more so the Pakistan team, who have not been at their best since the Asia Cup.
Both teams faced each other in a 3-match series in 2022. Although Pakistan whitewashed the Netherlands, 2 of those matches could have very well gone either way, and both teams would be wary of this fact when they take the field this Friday, 6th October.
The Shaheens had been growing from strength to strength ever since the 2019 World Cup, winning 8 out of their 10 ODI series since then, resulting in a historic no. 1 spot in the ICC ODI rankings, and as usual, the Pakistani Pace battery was the backbone of their success.
Thus, the Pakistani fans were optimistic about the team carrying over this momentum to the 2023 Asia Cup, however, their campaign was catastrophic, to say the least; with Pakistan finishing dead last in the Super 4 stage. Fortunes didn’t improve for the warm-up games either, with Pakistan losing both of their games.
Recent Form: LLWWW (only completed matches)
Be it Imran-Nawaz, Wasim-Waqar-Akhtar or Amir-Junaid-Hasan, fast bowling has been a strength of the Pakistan white-ball set-up and it’s no different this time. Pakistani Pacers have the best average(26.41) amongst the 10 participating teams since the 2019 WC.
Naseem Shah’s exclusion from the tournament was a big blow for the team, especially his exploits at the top. His replacement Hasan Ali looked in good rhythm in the Australian warm-up match, and Pakistan would be hoping he replicates his 2017 heroics. Naseem has an ODI bowling average of 16.96.
Apart from that, they would want their batters to step up. Surprisingly the middle-order has been valiant in their efforts recently, with Rizwan and Ifthikar having brilliant Asia Cups. It’s the top order that needs to play with a positive approach.
The past couple of years haven’t been rosy for Babar, especially as a leader. Another failure to capture an ICC tournament may prove to be the final nail in Babar’s captaincy reign.
The men in orange stunned the world last November when they finished 4th in group 2 of the T20 World Cup but things didn’t look as promising when it came to ODI’s. Netherlands had lost 20 out of their 23 ODI matches in the decade, preceding the 2023 WC qualifiers.
However, what followed was a remarkable comeback, which saw the Netherlands qualify for the main stage over teams like Zimbabwe and Scotland.
The team has yet to play an official ODI since their triumph in Zimbabwe. Their performance in the tour games was disappointing, losing both matches against the Karnataka state team, however, the team showed respite in the warm-up game against Australia. Netherland’s first 7 batsmen were dismissed for a duck in the first game against Karnataka.
Recent Form: LWWLW
Netherland’s recent limited-overs heroics have been built on the basis of stellar all-round performances, and if the team is to succeed this winter, multi-utility players such as Van Der Merwe, De Leede, Ackermann etc. need to continue their good form.
De Leede has been the 2nd highest wicket-taker and 4th highest run-getter for the Netherlands, since 2020.
It is a golden opportunity for Scott Edwards and Co. to leave a mark on the grandest stage of them all. Victorious performances in the tournament can help advance cricket in the “Kingdom of the Low Countries” by decades.
The Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium has progressed from the low-scoring thrillers of the early Sunrisers team to a ground where one can expect a fairly high-scoring affair. The only ODI held over here since the last World Cup saw a 686-run-fest between New Zealand and India.
The average first innings score at the Uppal stadium in IPL 2023 stood at 172.5.
Dew shouldn’t be a problem in this part of the world and thus the toss should not play a big role, given the even-steven recording of batting 1st vs batting second in the IPL matches held at the ground.
Overall pacers have dominated the spinners over here, but that’s more to do with the kind of attack Hyderabad has employed within their squad.
Probable Playing XI
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-Ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Ifthikar Ahmed, Salman Agha, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr., Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf
Netherlands: Vikramjit Singh, Max O’Dowd, Wesley Barresi, Bas De Leede, Colin Ackermann, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Scott Edwards, Roelof Van Der Merwe, Logan Van Beek, Paul Van Meekeran, Aryan Dutt
Both teams have a couple of decisions to make. Let’s start off with Pakistan. Salman Agha made a phenomenal start to his ODI career, striking at 108.71 in his first 10 innings. However, runs have dried up for him in his past two series, especially the Asia Cup, where he averaged 20.
Pakistan have Saud Shakeel within their ranks. Although he himself has been dismal in his limited ODI opportunities, his red-ball form has been terrific; with his game against spin lauded in his tour to Sri Lanka. Moreover, he had a brilliant outing in the warm-up match against New Zealand and has put up doubts within the Pakistani management.
Other than that they have the decision of picking the 5th bowler. It’s a 3-way battle between Usama, Nawaz and Wasim Jr. Nawaz hasn’t done much with the bowl in recent times and with Usama outbowling him in the warm-up games, we can safely say Nawaz will have to wait for his first game in India.
Now Wasim Jr. did have terrible performances in the 2 warm-up games, but he has been brilliant in the past, playing a key role in Pakistan’s summit to the top. Thus Pakistan might back him to pick up the wickets in the middle overs.
The Netherlands themselves have their own sets of choices. The primary one would be who are the 7 batsmen? We have left out Teja Nidamanuru solely due to the fact that the Netherlands decided to drop him in the warm-up game against Australia. Teja has made a name for himself within a short period of time, having the highest strike rate among squad members. It remains a question whether the Netherlands will pick say the 35-year-old Engelbrecht, who last played a professional game in 2016, over him.
Other than that, the Netherlands also have a wide variety of bowlers to choose from and may favour an extra pacer in the form of Ryan Klein.
Players To Watch Out For
Shaheen Shah Afridi
The Phastun Eagle has established himself as one of the best white-ball bowlers in the world since his debut in 2018 and he will be eyeing the Dutch top-order as his first prey in the month-long hunt. Only Trent Boult and Mohammed Siraj have a better ODI bowling average than Shaheen since his debut (Only participating players, min. 500 balls).
Shaheen has averaged under 25 in his last 5 ODI series, as usual being terrific at the start. Only Mitchell Starc has picked up more wickets within the first over of an innings with a better strike rate than Shaheen (since 2002).
Talking about Mitch, he picked up a hat-trick against the Dutch before the tournament, cleaning up Netherlands’s no. 2,3 and 4. With another left arm-pacer swinging the ball in this Friday, the Dutch openers have their task cut out to survive the initial Shaheen onslaught, especially Vikramjit Singh, the only leftie in the Netherlands batting line-up.
Scott Edwards leads the Netherlands side not only as a skipper but also as their premier batsman. 1,212 runs @40.40 with a strike rate of 92.73, only Ten Doeschate and Tom Cooper to an extent have been more prolific with the bat than Captain Edwards, in the Netherlands’ ODI history.
Usually coming way down at number 7, Edwards is by far the best player of spin in the current squad, using his sweep shots(and it’s variants) to full use against the slower bowlers.
Scott Edwards averages 53.42 against the spinners along with a strike rate of 97.86, since 2020
He also adept to the pacers very well, otherwise, he wouldn’t have been the current team’s leading run-getter despite batting at a finisher’s position. Edwards had played a brilliant knock of 71* in 60 deliveries against Pakistan in 2022, and it’s crucial for the team that he replicates this performance on 6th October.
The past few years have been nerve-racking for Captain Azam. Be it final losses in the 22 T20 World Cup and Asia Cup, or home test series failures, Babar has found himself cornered by innumerable critiques of his leadership. Moreover, he hasn’t looked the same with the bat either in his favourite format.
Except for the 151-run knock against Nepal, Babar averages 42.4 with a very ordinary strike rate of 80.2 across 14 ODI innings in 2023.
Strike rate is one aspect of his game that many feel is something where he underperforms given his calibre. With Imam taking his own sweet time to settle coupled with Fakhar Zaman’s lack of scores in his last 10 innings, Captain Babar will have added responsibility going into the match.
However one shouldn’t underestimate him. Babar Azam has scored 2,196 runs at an average of 66.55 Since the 2019 World Cup. 2nd best average and highest runs amongst the participating players.
He did well against the Dutch in 2022 and will hope he will be able to find his touch back by this November, a journey which starts on 6th October.
- Babar Azam vs Aryan Dutt: 24 Runs, 37 Balls, 2 Dismissals
- Bas De Leede vs Mohammad Wasim: 27 Runs, 35 Balls, 2 Dismissals
- Bas De Leede vs Shadab Khan: 17 Runs, 35 Balls, 0 Dismissals
PAK vs NED Dream11 Team for Match 2 of 2023 WC
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