Dharamsala: South Africa are making quite a statement at the World Cup, playing entertaining cricket and plundering tons of runs as they steamroll rival teams.
As the Proteas take on the Netherlands in this hilly paradise on Tuesday, the perennial under-performers and ‘chokers’ have shown in the last two games their determination to go the distance in the tournament.
Their 102-run win against Sri Lanka in the opener in New Delhi after putting a record 428/5 on the board, followed by 134-run victory against five-time champions Australia in Lucknow, have made South Africa the team to beat in the competition.
From staying under the radar in the lead-up to the ODI showpiece to becoming high-flyers, the Proteas have started playing to potential and will be firm favourites against the Dutch.
Unlike the Australian and England cricket teams, whose patchy performance so far has left a lot to be desired, the South Africans have come out with full combat capabilities -with the likes of wicket-keeping stalwart Quinton de Kock, top-order batter Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram making a massive impact here.
The trio smashed a century each against Sri Lanka to pile up a mountain of runs with Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller playing useful cameos in the 428-run total.
Though their bowlers did take a beating from the Sri Lankans, they hit back with full force against the Australians in the next match.
A second consecutive century by De Kock and a massively improved performance from tall pace bowler Marco Jansen and Kagiso Rabada floored Pat Cummins’ side.
The 177-run loss for the five-time champions following the humiliating loss to India in the opener has put the Kangaroos on the mat.
The Proteas would look to attack with even more firepower against the Netherlands, a side that has very few recognisable faces in mainstream cricket. But they have posed a challenge occasionally, like the huge upset they made during the 2009 T20 World Cup, defeating England at Lord’s.
Last year, the Dutch eliminated the Proteas, handing them a shocking 13-run defeat in the Super 12 stage of the T20 World Cup in Australia.
The Scott Edwards-led side will certainly take inspiration from that victory, though T20 and 50-over formats are like chalk and cheese.
But, on a cricket field, where miracles happen, the Dutch too would want to aim for a victory for the ages after seeing Afghanistan overrun defending champions England on Sunday night in New Delhi.
The Proteas, once bitten twice shy, would be looking to opener De Kock, Rassie van der Dussen and Aiden Markram to once again set the stage on fire and then give their bowlers a big total to defend.
Squads: Netherlands: Scott Edwards (c/wk), Colin Ackermann, Wesley Barresi, Bas de Leede, Aryan Dutt, Sybrand Engelbrecht, Ryan Klein, Teja Nidamanuru, Max O’Dowd, Saqib Zulfiqar, Shariz Ahmad, Logan van Beek, Roelof van der Merwe, Paul van Meekeren, Vikramjit Singh.
South Africa: Temba Bavuma (c), Gerald Coetzee, Quinton de Kock (wk), Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen, Lizaad Williams.
Match starts: 2:00pm (IST). PTI AM BS BS AM
(Published 16 October 2023, 09:02 IST)