It's Netherlands-South Africa but focus on India-Pakistan mega match - Cricket News | Cricket Updates | Match Report

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Saturday, June 8, 2024

It's Netherlands-South Africa but focus on India-Pakistan mega match

 The Netherlands and South Africa will clash on one of the two unused surfaces on Saturday

The Netherlands and South Africa will clash on one of the two unused surfaces on Saturday © Getty

You know there's damage that needs controlling when even the notoriously anodyne, weasel-wordy, nothing-to-see-here ICC makes a statement worth knowing. But there they were on Thursday, 59 anodyne weasel words. Despite that, they were worth knowing.

"T20 [Incorporated, the company set up in the United States to deliver the men's T20 World Cup] and the ICC recognise that the pitches used so far at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium have not played as consistently as we would have all wanted. The world-class grounds team have been working hard since the conclusion of [Wednesday's game between Ireland and India at the troublesome venue] to remedy the situation and deliver the best possible surfaces for the remaining matches."

Had Nassau's unpredictable bounce been seen at Lord's, Newlands or the MCG, the ICC wheels that might lead to the pitch being slapped with an adverse rating would already be in motion. But the situation at Nassau, which didn't exist as a cricket ground until work on the site began in January, is wholly owned by the ICC and their satellite. There is no independent curator or stadium management to blame.

Similarly, had two Ugandan or United States players been hit by deliveries that reared unexpectedly, many would suspect that nothing more than a sympathetic shoulder shrug would have followed. The ICC will struggle to avoid the assumption that there is a fuss because the players who were hit were Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant.

India's excellent team are deservedly beloved and revered in India. Not so much outside of India, where they are considered unduly privileged, pampered and propped up. Cry more, much of the rest of the cricket world might want to say. The other side of that equation - that mighty India's finest couldn't possibly cop blows from lowly Ireland - helps fuel the narrative that the pitch is the sole villain of the piece. As does the converse view: that India aren't as special as they like to think they are.

Canada and Ireland played at Nassau on Friday on the same pitch used in the Ireland-India match. While the bounce was less up-and-down less frequently, inconsistency was again in evidence. The Netherlands and South Africa will clash on one of the two unused surfaces on Saturday. It looked all but denuded of grass on Friday. All of which is a dress rehearsal for Sunday's mega match at Nassau between India and Pakistan. That game will be played on the same strip as Saturday's.

It's a pity Sunday looms over everything, because Saturday's game is loaded with its own powerful context. The Dutch's wins over the South Africans in their last two tournament meetings - in Adelaide at the 2022 T20 World Cup and in Dharamsala in the ODI version last year - are their only successes over opponents who are invariably favoured to beat them. That the Netherlands have won the two most consequential of their nine completed white-ball matches against South Africa should make this meeting irresistible for partisan and neutral observers alike. Sadly, many will watch mainly for signs of erratic bounce.

When: Netherlands vs South Africa, June 8, 2PM GMT, 10.30AM Local, 4.30PM SAST, 8PM IST

Where: Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, New York State

What to expect: A difficult pitch and a slow outfield, as everyone who is anyone - and a few who aren't - have been at pains to make plain. A 25% chance of showers has been forecast.

Head to head in T20 World Cups: 1-1

Team Watch:

Netherlands

How the Dutch adjust to the conditions will be key to their chances.

Tactics & Matchups: Tim Pringle and Logan van Beek took three wickets each in the win over Nepal in Dallas on Tuesday, and will like the idea of variable bounce. Max O'Dowd will hope his 54 not out in that match has honed his skills for Saturday's challenge.

Probable XI: Michael Levitt, Max O'Dowd, Vikramjit Singh, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Scott Edwards (capt), Bas de Leede, Teja Nidamanuru, Logan van Beek, Tim Pringle, Paul van Meekeren, Vivian Kingma

South Africa

Having already played at Nassau should prove an important advantage.

Tactics & Matchups: South Africa were content to win ugly against Sri Lanka at this venue on Monday, but they know the Dutch are ambitious.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Aiden Markram (capt), Tristan Stubbs, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje, Ottneil Baartman

Did you know?

- These teams have never played bilateral T20Is against each other.

- South Africa won their first four ODI and T20I World Cup games against the Netherlands. Then came Adelaide in 2022 and Dharamsala in 2023.

- The Dutch are the only associate team who have beaten South Africa.

What they said:

"It probably comes down to consistency; consistency in games, consistency in the way we play, the way we train and always just trying to get better. As cliche as it sounds, that's what it's really all about. Our aim is to become - from where we are now, a good team - a great team. There's many little things that we need to do, whether that's fitness, whether that's extra fielding, extra batting, whatever it looks like. It's just about putting in the work." - Max O'Dowd unpacks the orange algorithm for success.

"The moment they get on top of you they become a difficult beast. When other teams are on top, it's difficult to come back. A team like the Netherlands, when they do the basics right, they do it so well they keep squeezing you. It's not easy to shift the momentum against them." - Heinrich Klaasen is under no illusions about the challenge awaiting the South Africans.

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