March 8, New Delhi: India will go into its next match of the World Cup which happens to be against the Netherlands, fully aware that they can not afford to take the minnows lightly. So what if the Ducth have come off two crushing defeats - at the hands of the West Indies (by 215 runs) and South Africa (by 231 runs). They have the wherewithal to put on a good score as they showed in their first match, against England. They certainly don't shy away from tangling with the big boys.
Meanwhile, India have emerged from a not very convincing win over Ireland. The European under-dogs made them sweat for their 5-wicket victory on Sunday. India's bowling was looking inconsistent and predictable in patches and not something likely to intimidate the Ducth straight off.
The batting too lacked its usual aggressive edge as a lot of caution was employed. Netherlands maybe looking to thrive on a similar level of tentativeness. After all, they will be keen to make a statement before their time in this World Cup is through.
Looking at India's history against the Dutch, the home-side has played them just once - during the 2003 World Cup - and defeated them on that occasion. But it was not a comprehensive win as one may have imagined. The Netherlands went down by 68 runs after limiting India to a very modest 204 all out in 48.5 overs!
The teams have changed vastly since then. While just Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag have stayed put in the Indian team, Adeel Raja and Bas Zuiderent are the only two surviving Dutch veterans in their team.
The Dutch players that India will have to watch out for in their upcoming encounter are Tom Cooper who bears a top average of 55.20 from three matches and Ryan Ten Doeschate with 45.66. Tom de Grooth and Peter Borren too have notched up around 20 runs per match and are capable of pulling off bigger scores.
In contrast however, India's batting looks far superior judging from the World Cup so far. At the top of the Indian batting chart, Yuvraj Singh is averaging a 108 from two innings. He is followed by Virender Sehwag with 71.66 and Sachin Tendulkar with 62.00, both from three innings each.
Even India's bowlers are miles ahead of their Dutch counterparts. For instance, Zaheer Khan has taken 8 wickets from 3 matches at an average of 16.75, while the Netherlands' best bowler ten Doeschate has 6 scalps from the same number of matches at 32.66 runs conceded per wicket.
Indeed, it may appear that the teams are mismatched... on paper. But India's performances on the field don't always coincide with the figures in record books. So the home-team will have to make a concerted effort on Wednesday, March 9, to remind the Dutch who are the cricketing superpowers and who are after all, the minnows...