Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Mohali, March 2: With their close encounter against England last Tuesday, the Netherlands have sounded a strong message to the rest of their group, that they are certainly no push-overs. South Africa will to well to heed their call, especially as the side, judging from the last World Cup where they lost to Bangladesh, is possibly prone to going down to minnows.
However, South Africa can take resounding solace from the fact that they have given the Dutch an utter hiding in their only two previous encounters. Indeed, in the 1996 World Cup, South Africa consigned the Netherlands to an thumping 160. But the last time these two sides met, which was in the 2007 WC, the victory margin was even more emphatic - 221 runs.
The Proteas appear to have gone through an upheaval in terms of team composition since then as only three players remain in the side - all batsman, incidentally - captain Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and A B de Villiers. Meanwhile, the Dutch team hasn't remained constant either, imbibing four new players in the ranks.
But it turns out that two of the three veteran Proteas players excelled in their first WC 2011 match, which took place against the West Indies. A B de Villier grabbed most of the honours with his match-winning unbeaten 107 off 105 balls, while Smith pitched in with 45 and J P Duminy with 42 not out. So, they will certainly prove to be key players in not just the encounter against the Netherlands, but in the rest of the tournament as well.
The Dutch will be writhing, wincing and cringing from their last defeat to South Africa. After all, the Proteas compiled a gigantic total of 353/3 in 40 overs, before restricting their lowly opponents to just 132/9 in the same duration. The match is equally famous as it is notorious for the most-runs-scored-in-an-over record which went to Herchelle Gibbs, who flayed Daan Van Bunge for 6 consecutive sixes! In their reply, the Dutch's only saving grace was Ryan Ten Doeschate who made 57 of 74 balls.
Incidentally, Ten Doeschate is also one of the privileged few to notch up a century in this tournament, making a robust 119 off 110 balls against England. He also took 2 wickets in the match to unanimously be voted the Man of the Match for his efforts. So hopefully, he can repeat his stellar performance against the South Africans. Or will the law of averages do him a nasty trick here, like it did in the Netherlands match against the West Indies on Monday? Thursday, March 3rd holds the answer to that question.