We have a double header of action at the ICC Cricket World Cup on Saturday and it begins in Lucknow where the winless Sri Lanka take on the Netherlands in a contest both might look at as one they can win.
Sri Lanka have made a very ordinary start to the competition and are in desperate need of a victory here. The Netherlands have a win on the board already and will be looking to shock another full member nation here.
The Netherlands lost their opening two matches but there were certainly periods in both of them where they were competitive but just couldn’t quite complete the full 100 overs at the required level. They certainly did that in their third match when they took care of South Africa for one of their more famous wins in their history. They will have seen Afghanistan pull off an upset earlier in the competition and then fail to perform in the next game and will be out to make sure they don’t suffer the same fate.
The Netherlands completed their batting innings with power and quality in that match which is something they were unable to do in the first two matches. With runs on the board they were able to use the scoreboard pressure to their advantage and in the end they ran out pretty convincing winners. It goes without saying that they will be looking for a repeat of that showing here but that might be easier said than done as there is often a natural comedown after a result of that magnitude.
This has been a tournament to forget for Sri Lanka so far and were they to be beaten here they can forget about their competition from a competitive point of view as five wins isn’t likely to be enough to get through given the damage that has been done to their net run rate. To be fair to Sri Lanka, they were probably never going to be favourites to beat either South Africa, Pakistan or Australia but it is the way they have lost which will concern them.
In the opening two matches their batters put up decent totals but they were made to look paltry after a couple of poor bowling efforts. Injuries have really not helped them in the bowling department and it has shown in the tournament so far. You sense that put even more pressure on their batting and it failed to live up to it in the third game so Sri Lanka have a lot to work on and are under heaps of pressure to win this match.
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The Netherlands have not reported any fresh injury concerns so it would be a big surprise were they to make any changes to the team which saw off South Africa so well in the last game. Ryan Klein is waiting if someone doesn’t pull up so well.
Sri Lanka will give Kusal Mendis as long as possible to be right to play after he suffered a concussion against Australia. There is still no Matheesha Pathirana unless the Sri Lankan setup have been coy with his availability.
I’m sure there will be plenty who will fancy a Netherlands win here given the way that the two sides have begun the tournament. I wouldn’t necessarily sway from that but the Dutch do have to back up the high of that win and we’ve seen two or three times in this competition already that a second successive performance doesn’t naturally follow. If the Netherlands are to win this match then it is hard to see Bas de Leede not playing a key role. He might play one even in defeat as he did when these two met in the qualifier when the Durham all-rounder totalled 111 performance points courtesy of three wickets, a catch and 41 runs. That was against a better bowling unit than he’ll face here and arguably a better batting unit too. De Leede has a performance line of 42.5 which he covered comfortably in the first two games and totalled 42 in the latest one where a dropped catch would have taken him over. He is the leading Dutch player who should get plenty out of this Lucknow pitch with bat and ball and that performance line looks perfectly achievable.
Maheesh Theekshana hasn’t really bowled well in this tournament so far but I sense he is the main Sri Lankan man here. He has gone wicket less in his first two matches in the tournament but he has played four white ball matches against the Netherlands in the last two years, a pair of T20s and two ODIs at the qualifying competition this event and he has snaffled 11 scalps with the three and four he took in the qualifying event being enough to be the top Sri Lanka bowler. That was in an attack which had both Wanindu Hasaranga and Matheesha Pathirana in it which this one won’t have. I’ve said plenty of times in the past it is mystery spin that the associate batters struggle with the most and so the 10/3 that Theekshana takes the most wickets for Sri Lanka in this one just looks too big.
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