The Dutch earned World Cup Super 12 qualification after a gap of eight years, courtesy of a win by UAE over Namibia in the final group match.
A low net run rate was the sole reason the Netherlands’ fate rested on the shoulders of their Middle Eastern counterparts in a group that comprised of leaders Sri Lanka as well.
In fact, Netherlands had lost just one out of their three group games despite being the lowest-ranked (17th) outfit competing in the ICC event Down Under.
Their group stage displays threw light upon the fact that in sport, especially T20 cricket, numbers really don’t matter and results go could go either way.
However, unlike India, Netherlands did not have the positive start to their Super 12 campaign as they lost to Bangladesh by nine runs on Monday, 24 October.
With the Super 12 matches now underway only time can tell what’s in store for the Dutch. It might be too early to write them off as well given the unpredictable nature of T20 cricket.
Netherlands already proved that they have the potential to punch above their weight with victories over UAE and Namibia in the group stages. Having said that, let’s look at five key players to watch out for in the Scott Edwards-led side.
1.Bas de Leede (All-rounder)
Aged just 22, all-rounder Bas de Leede has already grown in stature as one of the key players in the Dutch side. The youngster is dream player for any T20 captain due to his ability to wield the willow and chip in with the ball.
De Leede’s worth in the team can be evaluated solely on his exploits in the ongoing World Cup. The right-arm medium bowler is the joint-highest wicket-taker alongside Wanindu Hasaranga of Sri Lanka with nine scalps from four matches.
He has also 58 runs, which makes him the third highest run-getter in the tournament for his side. Going by recent performances alone, de Leede has by far been his side’s best performer with 347 runs and 19 wickets from 11 matches – the highest this year.
2.Max O’Dowd (Opener)
With a high backlift and locks that touch his shoulders, Max O’Dowd is clearly someone who will not go unnoticed on a pitch. However, the 28-year-old has more to him than just his technique and physical appearance.
The right-handed opener is his side’s highest run-scorer in World Cup after four games with 137 runs and an impressive average of 45.66. O’Dowd is in second place -- 34 runs short of Sri Lanka’s Kusal Mendis, who leads the run-scorers chart.
With 54 T20I caps, O’Dowd is one of the most experienced players and an inspiration for the younger lot within the Dutch squad. His 1484 T20I runs is the highest by any Dutch player. The opener also holds the record for being the only Dutch batter to score a century (133 not out) in T20I cricket.
3.Paul van Meekeren (Bowler)
Nine years have passed since Paul van Meekeren made his T20I debut for Netherlands. The 29-year-old remains an indispensable member of unit and was rightly included in this year's World Cup squad.
The lanky right-arm pacer proved his worth by picking five wickets from four games in the World Cup and is now the joint third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament along with a few others.
A regular within the side, Van Meekeren has made 54 T20I appearances so far -- same as his teammate O’Dowd and is only behind Pieter Seelaar (77) and Ben Cooper (58), who both announced their retirement last year.
On Monday, he became the joint-highest wicket-taker (58) for Netherlands in T20Is along with Seelaar when his delivery uprooted the stumps of Bangladesh’s Asif Ali. Van Meekeren, however, achieved the feat in fewer matches.
4.Fred Klaassen (Bowler)
Born in England, raised in New Zealand, Australia and playing for Netherlands, Fred Klaassen is a popular name in the County Championship where he features for Kent Cricket Club.
His exploits in the county coupled with his international displays has seen the 29-year-old mature into one of the premier pacers in the Dutch unit since his T20I debut four years ago.
Blessed with the natural ability to swing the ball, Klaasen has impressed with four wickets from as many games in the ongoing World Cup. The left-arm seamer has been one of the standout players for Netherlands in 2022 with 14 wickets from nine T20I matches at a decent economy of 6.44.
Only de Leede has bagged more wickets than Klaasen while fellow pacer Logan van Beek has the same numbers.
5.Colin Ackermann (All-rounder)
Despite being 31, Colin Ackermann has featured just 18 times for Netherlands in T20Is and is relatively less experienced internationally when compared to many of his fellow teammates.
Nevertheless, the selectors decided to include the all-rounder in the World Cup squad keeping in mind the flexibility he offers to a side.
Capable of slotting in at any place in the middle order, Ackermann has played in a variety of roles – from anchor to finisher, for both Netherlands and in first class cricket.
In their Super 12 opener against Bangladesh, he singlehandedly tried to steer the side when wickets kept falling frequently at the other side. His 62 off 48 balls, however, could not save them from impending doom as his side fell short by nine runs in the end.
Ackermann’s occasional off-spin further enhances his role within the side as it could offer skipper Edwards with more bowling options as and when required.