The experienced Netherlands side looks somewhat ragged but will pounce on any opportunity Aqib Javed’s boys provide
United Arab Emirates is a first-timer at the ICC World Twenty20, having qualified as the fourth team from the qualifiers at home last November. The Netherlands, at one stage the torch-bearers of the associate nations, but who has now lost its One-Day International status after failing to qualify for next year’s 50-over World Cup, is struggling to live up to the lofty standards it has set for itself, comprehensively failing to fill the breach caused over the last three years by the non-availability of Ryan ten Doeschate, easily its best player for a long time now.
The winner of this Group B contest is far from assured of qualification, what with Zimbabwe and Ireland looming large; the vanquished will almost certainly play itself out. It’s against this backdrop that the Netherlands and UAE come face to face under lights in a contest that promises plenty.
UAE’s lack of experience at this level will be offset by the poor recent batting form of the Netherlands, coming into this game on the back of three consecutive defeats including in both warm-up games in Bangladesh. Having lost to Hong Kong in the UAE, it went down by 35 runs to Afghanistan on the Duckworth-Lewis method and was beaten by 27 runs by Hong Kong, both in Chittagong. In the second of those losses, the Netherlands managed just 100, much to the dismay of Peter Borren, its captain, who made his irritation known.
Borren must find ways beyond expressing his frustration in no uncertain terms if he is to rouse his team into action. Its top order is in a shambles – its last two scores read 86 and 100 – in ten Doeschate’s absence, and it needs Stephan Myburgh, Wesley Barresi and Cooper brothers Ben and Tom to embrace greater responsibility against a UAE side with nothing to lose.
This is UAE’s first global appearance since the 50-over World Cup in 1996, a turnaround effected by Aqib Javed, the former Pakistan paceman who has guided the Under-19 team to the World Cup, and the senior side to both the World Twenty20 and 50-over World Cup in Australia-New Zealand next year. The team is made up of semi-professionals; Khurram Khan, its captain, is a 42-year-old flight purser with Emirates, but he is also its best and most prolific batsman.
Aqib worked on instilling the importance of physical fitness on his players, a majority of whom hold day jobs. The moment the team got fitter, the results too followed. Now, UAE finds itself within three wins of rubbing shoulders with the likes of South Africa, Sri Lanka, England and New Zealand but, for now, it has no choice but to take it one match at a time.
Aqib’s shrewd brain will have taken note of the Netherlands’ vulnerability with the bat up front. He has the bowling resources to cash in on that weakness, with Kamran Shahzad, Amjad Javed and Manjula Guruge all capable of striking with the new ball, while Moaaz Qazi, at 18, is an exciting offspinner who picked up eight wickets in the Under-19 World Cup, also in UAE, last month.
If there is one thing UAE must guard against, it is a tendency to lapse into excitability and attempt to do too much with the bat too soon. Netherlands has the advantage of immense experience with several of the 15 having featured in the 2011 World Cup, and as poorly as it might be faring now, it will pounce on the slightest opening. UAE can ill afford any unforced mistakes if it is to make its World Twenty20 debut a successful one.
The Netherlands: Peter Borren (capt), Wesley Barresi (wk), Mudassar Bukhari, Ben Cooper, Tom Cooper, Tom Heggleman, Ahsan Malik, Vivian Kingma, Stephan Myburgh, Michael Rippon, Pieter Seelaar, Michael Swart, Eric Szwarczynski, Logan van Beek, Timm van der Gugten.
UAE: Khurram Khan (capt), Ahmed Raza, Amjad Ali (wk), Amjad Javed, Faizan Asif, Manjula Guruge, Kamran Shazad, Moaaz Qazi, Swapnil Patil, Rohan Mustafa, Rohit Singh, Shaiman Anwar, Sharif Asadullah, Vikrant Shetty, Shadeep Silva.