It’s been 435 days, or a little over 14 months, since the Netherlands last won a One-Day International.
It hasn’t been plain-sailing against tough oppositions who play a larger volume of cricket around the world but a win against the visiting Pakistanis would be on the radar of Scott Edwards, the Dutch captain, and Ryan Cook, the interim head coach, as an incredible summer of cricket reaches its conclusion this week in Rotterdam in a three-match ODI series.
‘We have competed in most of the games throughout the summer but that first win is what we are really after,’ Edwards told Dutch News. ‘Coming into this series against Pakistan, we are confident with the way we are playing our cricket. It’s just about putting those finishing touches when the game opens up and making sure we take that opportunity.’
There have been moments of brilliance against New Zealand, the West Indies and England with a sniff at victory in sight but a failure to grasp those opportunities was put down to a lack of exposure against the full member nations on a regular basis and if anything, there has been plenty of it on offer this summer.
An area of focus will be on converting their strong starts with the bat to a substantial score with the Dutch failing to breach the 300-run mark in their last 15 completed ODIs.
‘As a batting group, over the last couple of series we have had parts of the game we wanted to work on and improve,’ Edwards, who will be leading the Netherlands in his second full-series, said.
‘From the West Indies series, we felt like we made a lot of improvements with our batting in the England series scoring 250-260 consistently against a world-class attack. It is partly the middle-overs but we feel if we can find a way to score an extra 40-50 runs and get ourselves in and around the 300-run mark, we give ourselves a great opportunity against these sides.’
The tour will be Pakistan’s first to the Dutch shores since playing a Videocon Cup trilateral series against India and Australia in 2004.
Their first game against the hosts came in a tour match at The Hague in 1992 but since then, the sides have gone head-to-head only thrice in official One-Day Internationals, twice at the World Cups in 1996 and 2003, in Lahore and Paarl, and a clash in Colombo in 2002 at the ICC Champions Trophy.
Pakistan came up trumps on all three occasions by a huge winning margin and notably, Tim de Leede, Bas’ father, featured in all three games.
The Dutch are set to field a fully home-based squad that sees the return of wicket-keeper-turned-off-spinning all-rounder Wesley Barresi, who retired from International cricket in 2019, and a maiden call-up for 20-year-old VOC off-spinner, Arnav Jain.
The bowling bears a largely spin-heavy look with only three frontline quicks in Logan van Beek, Vivian Kingma and Ryan Klein alongside the all-rounder Bas de Leede in the absence of Fred Klaassen, among other senior players fulfilling their commitments in the English domestic competitions.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are at full strength, with left-arm quick Shaheen Shah Afridi likely to be rested for at least two games in order to monitor his workload ahead of the Asia Cup in the UAE later this month. Having beaten Australia and West Indies at home in their most recent ODI assignments, the Babar Azam-led side is currently placed fifth in the World Cup Super League points table and will be eyeing another 30 points before turning their focus on the T20 World Cup preparation.
With overnight rain, the pitch at VOC’s Hazelaarweg, Edwards’ home-ground, is expected to aid run-scoring while also bringing in spinners into the game. The weather forecast is expected to be cold and windy for all three games on August 16, 18 and 21.
‘The wicket does take a little bit of turn, a little bit on the slower side but it will play pretty well with all the preparation that has gone into it,’ Edwards said. ‘We are expecting relatively high-scoring games and it’s exciting to take on a world-class side.’
Netherlands: Scott Edwards (c), Max O’Dowd, Vikram Singh, Musa Nadeem Ahmad, Tom Cooper, Bas de Leede, Wesley Barresi, Teja Nidamanuru, Logan van Beek, Tim Pringle, Aryan Dutt, Ryan Klein, Vivian Kingma, Shariz Ahmad, Arnav Jain
Pakistan: Fakhar Zaman, Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam(c), Mohammad Rizwan(w), Khushdil Shah, Agha Salman, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Haris, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Zahid Mahmood, Shahnawaz Dahani, Abdullah Shafique