The last time Netherlands faced South Africa in a T20I fixture, back in 2014, it came tantalisingly close to winning the game. After restricting South Africa to 145-9, the Dutch team fell short by just six runs in a World T20 outing in Chittagong on that March evening.
But eight-and-a-half years later, when the two teams meet again in a T20 World Cup outing, this time at the Adelaide Oval, the South African team doesn’t want to dwell about the past. Placed comfortably in Group 2, South Africa just needs a win to reach the semifinal, but the Temba Bavuma-led side is cautious ahead of the key game.
South Africa lost its previous match to Pakistan after putting the latter in trouble at 43 for 4. But on the eve of its final group league match, senior member of the team, Wayne Parnell said the key to success for the side has been sticking together.
“(We) just try and spend time together, talking about cricket. That is something that kind of has been lost in social media and phones,” Parnell said. “After games you pick up your phones, you are on WhatsApp, social media, so we spoke about it in India in June, just to actually have moments when we talk about cricket…”
The left-arm quick has had a successful outing so far, claiming five wickets in four games at an impressive rate of 5.83. And, with a fiery pace attack that features Kagiso Rabada, Ngidi Lungi, Anrich Nortje and Parnell, South Africa aims to make the most of the conditions at the Adelaide Oval against an inexperienced Netherlands batting department.
“It’s a crucial game for us tomorrow,” Parnell, who called it a virtual quarter-final, said on Saturday. “They are a quality side, they have shown that they can play good cricket, and hopefully it’s only in patches. If we bring our ‘A’ game I reckon we should have enough…”
South Africa’s opening game was a washout before it defeated Bangladesh and then India to brighten its semifinal hopes. However, the loss to Pakistan has brought the Proteas back to the drawing board.
“The first thing that really stands out is the unity. I think people are really enjoying other people’s successes, also everyone just trusts each other,” Parnell said, making it clear that they are focusing more as a team rather than individual performances.
South Africa’s senior men’s team has never won a World Cup in any format, and over the years, has labelled itself as ‘chokers’. “When we get that first trophy hopefully it will go away, but until then it will always be there,” Parnell said.
While the team struggled against Pakistan in the last game, captain Bavuma managed to find his mojo. Prior to the game, the opening batter had an average of 9.75, but that 36 against Pakistan, will boost the captain’s confidence, leading up to the last-four stage. In another development, David Miller has cleared the fitness test and is likely to be available for selection.
The star batter had missed out on the game against Pakistan due to back spasm.
Netherlands, meanwhile, comes into the game following a victory against Zimbabwe. After qualifying to the Super-12 stage and placed in a challenging group, Netherlands has struggled against big teams like India and Pakistan. But even then, the young guns have ensured that they put up a fight.
The team is already out of the semifinals race, but the win against Zimbabwe has motivated the team.
“I think South Africa is a good outfit. We have played some good cricket at stages this tournament, and we know on the day we can turn them over if we just stick to what we’ve been doing well and just compete on the day,” all-rounder Roelof van der Merwe said, hoping to put up a brave show against a ‘star-studded’ South African bowling line-up.