Big picture: Netherlands are catching up
When these two sides met a little over three months ago, the picture could not have been more dissimilar.
Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have stumbled from bad to worse, leaking a World Cup record total to South Africa, abetting a World Cup record chase to Pakistan and then enacting a Sri Lankan World Cup record collapse against Australia.
The Dutch are also stronger than they were in that July final, with the return of Colin Ackermann, Roelof van der Merwe and Paul van Meekeren. But for Sri Lanka, the tools that served them so well in the Qualifier – namely, their bowling attack – have been blunted. Even with the caveat of the tracks in India being batter-friendly, the absence of Wanindu Hasaranga has had a disconcerting knock-on effort on the effectiveness of Maheesh Theekshana – who himself seems to be struggling to recapture his mojo post-injury. Their batting too, which had offered some consolation in the losses to South Africa and Pakistan, deserted them against Australia.
Netherlands are a side that pride themselves on overcoming any talent or experience deficits through a laser-eyed focus on the aspects of the game within their control, such as fielding and running between the wickets – the latter has been a particular highlight of their game. You can also rest assured that any weaknesses in Sri Lanka’s team make-up will have been duly identified, and plans put in place to try and exploit them.
While Sri Lanka will still head into this game as nominal favourites – due to all the usual factors such as player ceilings and big-game experience – the margins between these sides are now arguably as fine as they have ever been.
Netherlands: WLLLW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Sri Lanka: LLLLW
In the spotlight: Scott Edwards and Dilshan Madushanka
Team news: Kusal Perera to have a late check-up
With no new injury concerns Netherlands could name an unchanged XI, though Ryan Klein is waiting in the wings if an extra seamer is deemed necessary.
Netherlands (probable XI): 1 Vikramjit Singh, 2 Max O’Dowd, 3 Colin Ackermann, 4 Bas de Leede, 5 Teja Nidamanuru, 6 Scott Edwards (capt & wk), 7 Sybrand Engelbrecht, 8 Roelof van der Merwe, 9 Logan van Beek, 10 Aryan Dutt, 11 Paul van Meekeren
Kusal Perera is to have a late check-up after suffering a concussion in the game against Australia, if he misses out expect Dimuth Karunaratne to slot in.
Sri Lanka (probable XI): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Perera/Dimuth Karunaratne, 3 Kusal Mendis (capt & wk), 4 Sadeera Samarawickrama, 5 Charith Asalanka, 6 Dhananjaya de Silva, 7 Dunith Wellalage, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Lahiru Kumara, 11 Dilshan Madushanka
Pitch and conditions: A day game in Lucknow
The Lucknow surface in the matches played there so far this tournament has shown a propensity for some uneven bounce, rewarding bowlers that stick to a good length or just short of one. Spinners too have found some assistance. But this one is expected to have a touch more grass on it and will perhaps offer a little more to the seamers. The weather is expected to clear and sunny, and with it being a day game both sides should get similar conditions to play with.
Stats and trivia: Sri Lanka need a win
- Sri Lanka haven’t lost the opening three games of a World Cup since 1987, when they lost all six of their matches
- Bas de Leede has seven wickets in the competition so far. Four more will see him equal the most for Netherlands in a World Cup, a record currently held by his father, Tim de Leede.
“We are playing with a really young group of bowlers, so they are bound to make mistakes. The way forward is how we can learn from the mistakes. It’s a nine-game tournament we are playing. So, I think the players have room to learn and improve their capabilities, because we’ve got a very capable group, no doubt.”
Sri Lanka’s assistant coach Naveed Nawaz
“The response has been very positive, and I’ve seen it being covered on the main national news, which is called NOS. There was an article done there. It was on live television. The awareness of the game is also growing in the Netherlands, as from what I noticed as well, which is a really huge positive for us, because quite often when you say you play cricket, not many people know what that is.”
Netherlands batter Teja Nidamanuru
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