Scotland are the highest-ranked of the three sides, but should expect the competition from the home side and Ireland to be tough.
Going by the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Team Rankings, Scotland are the top dogs in the triangular Twenty20 International series, to be played across the Netherlands from 12 June to 20 June. They are at No.11 on the table, while the hosts slot in next at No.13 and Ireland are at No.17.
How much the difference counts for remains to be seen, considering that all three teams, especially the visitors, have gone through periods of great highs in recent times.
None of the three managed to get into the top two at the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2018, and therefore missed a chance to be a part of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. But Ireland made their Test debut soon after, pushing Pakistan hard before going down by five wickets, while Scotland have just beaten England in a fantastic finish in a one-off one-day international in Edinburgh.
At the same time, none of the teams have actually played T20I cricket at a serious level in a long time. It was back at the Desert T20 Challenge in January 2017 that the Netherlands and Scotland played the format last, while Ireland were in action not too much later in India’s Greater Noida, playing Afghanistan in March 2017.
That would logically make their form in the format patchy, but Scotland will actually get two T20Is against Pakistan at home in Edinburgh just before making the trip across to the Netherlands, and that could give them a bit of an edge.
The tournament will be played in an interesting format. With Scotland playing Pakistan on 12 and 13 June at home, they come into the picture only on 16 June. Instead, the home side and Ireland will face off on 12 and 13 June, followed by the Ireland v Scotland games on 16 and 17 June, and then the games between the Netherlands and Scotland on 19 and 20 June.
The Netherlands, interestingly, have not finalised their squad yet.
Pieter Seelaar has been unveiled as the new captain following Peter Borren’s retirement, and the squad of 10 for the first game has three uncapped players: 22-year-old medium pacer Shane Snater, 25-year-old left-arm pacer Fred Klaasen and Saqib Zulfiqar, the 21-year-old left-arm spinner.
The delay in announcing the final squad is because Timm van der Gugten (Glamorgan), Paul van Meekeren (Somerset), Ryan ten Doeschate (Essex) and Roelof van der Merwe (Somerset) are all on county duty and their participation isn’t confirmed.
That, in any case, is for the first two games. For the Scotland fixtures, Max O’Dowd and Quirijn Gunnin have been named in the squad, with van der Gugten, van Meekeren and van der Merwe on stand-by.
Ireland have a new captain too, with William Porterfield opting out of the leadership role in the shortest format and Gary Wilson stepping in. It’s a strong squad, with many of the men who were part of the maiden Test – including batting star Kevin O’Brien – in the mix.
Scotland, meanwhile, apart from getting game time against Pakistan, the No.1 T20I team in the world, will also have the same squad of 15 doing duty in the Netherlands, giving them a bit of consistency and practice.
All in all, this should be an intriguing contest between three teams trying to make big statements.
Pieter Seelaar (The Netherlands): At 30, the new captain has a fair amount of experience, having played 37 ODIs and 39 T20Is, but wasn’t at his best in his team’s up-and-down campaign at the World Cup qualifiers. His left-arm spin, though, is excellent when he is in rhythm, as his career T20I economy rate of 6.55 proves.
How good is this t20 tri series going to be with @KNCBcricket@CricketScotland and @Irelandcricket— Peter Borren (@dutchiepdb) June 11, 2018
Should be awesome viewing. Everyone should get along to @VOCRotterdam and @VRAcricket
Will be cricket of a very high standard. I'm backing Orange to get up.
Kevin O’Brien (Ireland): One of the most popular centuries in World Cup history – the one against England in 2011 – made him the darling of Irish fans, and he built on his reputation with a counter-attacking 118 in the second innings of the Pakistan Test. With his medium pace still quite handy, O’Brien might be the man to make a difference for Ireland.
Safyaan Sharif (Scotland): The 27-year-old right-arm medium pacer made the difference in the end in the ODI against England, yorking Mark Wood to seal the six-run win. That was only to be expected from Sharif, whose 17 wickets in the World Cup qualifiers was one of the highlights of the tournament. Nippy and crafty, Sharif has a big reputation, which he will look to build on in the Netherlands.
12 June: Netherlands v Ireland in Rotterdam
13 June: Netherlands v Ireland in Rotterdam
16 June: Ireland v Scotland in Deventer
17 June: Ireland v Scotland in Deventer
19 June: Netherlands v Scotland in Amstelveen
20 June: Netherlands v Scotland in Amstelveen
Netherlands (to face Ireland): Pieter Seelaar (c), Wesley Barresi, Ben Cooper, Scott Edwards, Fred Klaassen, Bas de Leede, Shane Snater, Tobias Visee, Saqib Zulfiqar, Sikander Zulfiqar
To be confirmed: Timm van der Gugten, Paul van Meekeren, Roelof van der Merwe, Ryan ten Doeschate
Netherlands (to face Scotland): Pieter Seelaar (c), Wesley Barresi, Ben Cooper, Scott Edwards, Quirijn Gunnin, Fred Klaassen, Bas de Leede, Max O’Dowd, Shane Snater, Tobias Visee, Saqib Zulfiqar, Sikander Zulfiqar
To be confirmed: Timm van der Gugten, Paul van Meekeren, Roelof van der Merwe
Ireland: Gary Wilson (c), Andy Balbirnie, Peter Chase, Goerge Dockrell, Barry McCarthy, Kevin O’Brien, William Porterfield, Stuart Poynter, Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Craig Young.
Scotland: Kyle Coetzer (c), Richie Berrington, Dylan Budge, Matt Cross, Alasdair Evans, Hamza Tahir, Michael Leask, Calum MacLeod, George Munsey, Safyaan Sharif, Chris Sole, Craig Wallace, Mark Watt, Brad Wheal, Stuart Whittington.
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