Pakistan, which may have lost the two warm-up matches against New Zealand and Australia, will be a different proposition altogether when the Netherlands takes on the former champion in their first match of the ICC World Cup 2023 opener at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Thursday.
Given the fact that Babar Azam-led Pakistan arrived in the city much before many teams entered India and are quite familiar with playing conditions, which many cricketers felt were similar to those back home.
It is stressing the obvious that Babar has to lead from the front if Pakistan wants to make an emphatic statement in its World Cup opener and hopes that the other big names would strike it big.
Significantly, in the two warm-up games Pakistan played at this venue, the batters looked in fine touch with wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan scoring a century against New Zealand and Babar once again showcasing his class even as the others like Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz and Saud Shakeel showed potential to play big knocks.
But, it is the bowling which can be a major concern for Pakistan, especially in batter-friendly conditions. The pitch for tomorrow’s game is expected to be similar to the warm-up games.
This also means that Pakistan has an opportunity to get its confidence back with a worthy performance against Netherlands.
The pace attack has depth and variety and Pakistan badly needs it to live up to the potential to ensure a grand start.
On the other hand, coach Ryan Cook should be hoping that all the pre-World Cup preparations in Bengaluru will prove to be worthy.
Netherlands’ plans to get a feel and make a critical analysis of its readiness to take on the big guns in the World Cup were flattened when its warm-up game against India was washed out in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Dutch are short of match practice, not having played any international cricket after making the cut for this World Cup in July, edging out two-time champion West Indies.
The primary target of captain and hard-hitting batter, Scott Edwards would be to search for that elusive win in what would be the team’s fifth appearance in a World Cup.
A lot depends on players like Edwards, Logan van Beek, Paul van Meekeran and Bas de Leede if the Dutch are to make a serious impact in this World Cup.
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