It’s a do-or-die One Day International series for the Proteas when they take on the Netherlands
South Africa have their fate in their own hands to qualify for the 50-over World Cup in India later this year, but will have to be ruthless against the Dutch.
The result of South Africa’s upcoming two-match One Day International (ODI) series against the Netherlands will determine whether they qualify directly for the 50-over World Cup in India later this year or play qualifiers in Zimbabwe in June and July.
“Everyone knows the importance of these two games. It’s just like we’re playing another team. We have to come prepared and come out running,” said wicketkeeper-batter Quinton de Kock to the media on Thursday.
The first match against the Dutch kicks off on Friday at Willowmoore Park in Benoni, with the second being the annual “Pink Day” match at the Wanderers in Johannesburg on Sunday.
South Africa have their fate mostly in their own hands with regard to direct qualification for the World Cup.
Seven teams have already qualified, with only one spot left, which South Africa, West Indies, Ireland and Sri Lanka are in the hunt to fill.
West Indies are currently in eighth position on the World Cup Super League standings with 88 points, having played all their matches. Sri Lanka trail the Caribbean team in ninth place with 81 points. Sri Lanka have one game left against New Zealand, also on Friday. A victory will take them to 91 points.
South Africa are in 10th place with 78 points. Two wins over the Netherlands this weekend will take them to 98 points.
Ireland are in 11th position on 68 points with three matches in hand against Bangladesh. If Ireland whitewash Bangladesh and South Africa win their two matches in hand, both teams will be on 98 points, then it would come down to net run rate — Ireland’s net run rate is currently better than South Africa’s.
Things get more complicated with thunderstorms expected in Benoni on Friday. A rained-out match means South Africa will receive five points and their fate will be out of their own hands and in Ireland’s.
“It’s nice to be back [at Willowmoore Park], it’s generally a pretty decent wicket. Hopefully, the rain stays away and we can get down and play some cricket,” said De Kock.
“I’m going to try to give my absolute best not to go to Zimbabwe for the qualifiers. If we have any chance of not going I will do my best. I’m pretty sure the other guys will also do their best.”
Friday will be the Proteas’ first meeting against the Netherlands since being unceremoniously dumped out of the T20 World Cup by the men in orange in November last year.
“That game was really just bad for us as players and for South Africans in general,” said De Kock about the World Cup loss in Australia.
“Before that, we were playing pretty good cricket and even now we’re playing good cricket.
“We just have to make sure we rock up and not take things for granted and fire on all cylinders.”
South Africa have been playing an exciting brand of attacking cricket under new white-ball coach Rob Walter, although Walter has not tasted a series success with the team yet — drawing the recently concluded ODI series against West Indies 1-1 and losing the T20I series 2-1.
“We’re trying to play an aggressive brand of cricket but also very clever in the way we go about things by making sure we choose the right options,” added De Kock.
“It’s still a work in progress for us. We’ve seen that we will fail from time to time but the guys are really coming together for the new way we want to go about things.
“We haven’t won most things but we don’t get too heartsore about it because we’re playing really well.
“We have been batting really well. We were disappointed after the loss but also fairly happy about how we went about things. The West Indies played well.”
Walter experimented with the playing XI throughout the five white-ball matches against West Indies.
But he has selected what looks like his strongest possible squad for the two ODI matches against the Netherlands — and barring injury — one that will likely look similar to the World Cup squad — if South Africa qualify, of course.
“It’s quite nice, the fact that a lot of the guys got some time out in the middle and got some form [heading into the Dutch series],” De Kock added.
The first ODI against the Netherlands starts on Friday at 1pm at Willowmoore Park in Benoni. DM
Proteas ODI squad against Netherlands
Temba Bavuma (captain, Lions), Quinton de Kock (Titans), Bjorn Fortuin (Lions), Reeza Hendricks (Lions), Marco Jansen (Warriors), Heinrich Klaasen (Titans), Sisanda Magala (Lions), Aiden Markram (Titans), David Miller (Dolphins), Lungi Ngidi (Titans), Anrich Nortje (Warriors), Wayne Parnell (Western Province), Kagiso Rabada (Lions), Tabraiz Shamsi (Titans), Rassie van der Dussen (Lions).