Netherlands have real match-winners to pull off Proteas upset

Paul van Meekeren claimed 2-19 for the Netherlands in their T20 World Cup opener against Nepal. Photo: BackpagePix

Paul van Meekeren claimed 2-19 for the Netherlands in their T20 World Cup opener against Nepal. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 6, 2024



The Proteas will be out to correct their past shortcomings as an army in orange looks to inflict yet another upset on a grand stage.

South Africa kicked off their T20 World Cup campaign on Monday with a six-wicket win against a Sri Lankan side that succumbed to the favourable bowling conditions.

An impressive showing by the South African bowling unit left the Lions wounded and limping, with a long, tough road still to travel as the Bangladesh Tigers lie in wait to feast on their exposed weaknesses on Saturday.

The Proteas will be confident as they march on to their next stop against a Netherlands side on Saturday in New York (4.30pm start, SA time) with whom they will feel they have a score to settle, after the Dutch side’s surprise 13-run win in Adelaide in 2022.

Netherlands are fresh off a not-so-comfortable six-wicket victory against a Nepal side that seemed to have springs in their heels, and highly capable of an upset.

The Flying Dutchmen saw off the Rhinos in a buzzing Grand Prairie Stadium in the heavy presence of Nepalese fans who painted the stadium red and blue on Tuesday.

The Proteas head into Saturday’s fixture leading the way in the group with a good net run rate, and in the past they would also go in as favourites.

But their recent showings against the Netherlands leave a lot of possibilities open, with some of the following duels potentially having an impact on the final result on Saturday ...

Quinton de Kock v Max O’Dowd

Both openers are the leading run scorers for their respective countries in T20s, and their role has so often been to set up a solid foundation, especially in the power play.

But the challenging conditions both in Texas and New York has flipped the script, with bowlers extracting more from the surfaces, and this has required workmanlike batting innings.

The impact that either of the two have in the first six overs will be crucial for the rest of the match.

Heinrich Klaasen v Sybrand Engelbrecht

Klaasen’s ability to speed up his scoring rate was once again on full display, with South Africa needing to close out the game against Sri Lanka as the pitch got tougher to bat on.

Engelbrecht’s 14 off 16 balls was just as crucial for his team, with Nepal piling on the pressure.

Both batsmen have a strike rate of 145, and their stylish but powerful game could just be the difference between winning and losing.

Keshav Maharaj v Tim Pringle

The two left-arm orthodox bowlers picked up five wickets between them in their opening games. The surfaces have shown a good reaction to spin bowling, and their role outside the power play could be important in setting or defending a score.

Maharaj has the edge in terms of his experience and the overall wickets he has picked up, but it will come down to who has the most impact on the day.

Paul van Meekeren v Anrich Nortjé

On current form, Nortjé is head and shoulders above Van Meekeren, but considering that you are only as good as your last game, Van Meekeren’s rise to the top of the wicket-takers’ list in T20s for the Netherlands has come through experience and consistency that has played a role in their growth in the game.

Nortjé’s return to form will give him a lot of confidence heading into the fixture that will carry a lot of weight, with the winner in pole position to make the knockouts.