The Netherlands begin a first official tour of New Zealand on Friday when the two sides meet in what is the only T20 international prior to them going up against each other in three ODIs over the next week or so.
This match will act as the warm up for those ODIs which will be important for the Netherlands as they chase a place at the World Cup next year. They will get a second string New Zealand side to face here which should help them.
This will be just the fourth T20 international that New Zealand will have played since they were beaten in the World Cup final in November. The previous three came within a week of that loss when they were a side still clearly coming to terms with that defeat so it could be said this is the first T20 in which they can be judged fairly on, even then it is open to debate how fairly you can judge them given that so many first choice players are away on IPL duty.
You would imagine the test for New Zealand here is ensuring that they bat well over the course of this match and the ODIs to come if they are going to avoid a shock. They have some key bowlers away at the IPL but in the main the strength in depth in their bowling attack has been there for all to see. One advantage New Zealand do have in this match is that the Super Smash was still taking place fairly recently so players should be in tune to T20 cricket.
We last saw the Netherlands in the T20 format was at the T20 World Cup where I think it is fair to say they underperformed to the expectations of themselves and many judges around the world. They are quietly forming a decent outfit when they have everyone fit and firing but they just never got going in the UAE and you could see the pressure come on them from an early stage and they just didn’t handle it very well at all.
Playing in matches like this against the full member nations can only be a good thing for the Dutch and although this won’t be the strongest version of New Zealand it will still be a strong enough challenge for them. The Netherlands will head to Zimbabwe in July looking to qualify for the T20 World Cup later in the year so the more established opposition they can test themselves against the better shape they will be in heading into that competition.
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The likes of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Devon Conway and Mitchell Santner are away at the IPL which leaves a largely second string New Zealand outfit for this match but it will still contain the likes of Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Colin de Grandhomme and Ish Sodhi among others.
Netherlands have no Colin Ackermann in their squad for this match while Vivian Kingma is banned. There are recalls for Stephan Myburgh and Max O’Dowd while Logan van Beek will be heading back to the country where he won a couple of domestic T20 titles.
Ish Sodhi was bowling well towards the end of the Super Smash, helping his Northern Districts side lift the title and I think he’ll be a tough nut to crack here for the Dutch batsmen. If you think back to the World Cup their batters were generally fine against the seam bowlers but when the spin came on they had no answer and I suspect that will be what happens here. That makes me think the performance line of the leg spinner is worth targeting.
Sodhi will be assisted in his quest to get some spin in this match with Netherlands having had a couple of warm up matches on this Napier Park ground which will have dried the wickets out a little bit and if whoever opens the bowling for New Zealand keeps things tight and forces the hand of the Dutch players to go after Sodhi he’ll be right in the game. His performance line is 22.5 and while I don’t expect him to walk to the wicket with the bat in hand, he could easily take a couple of wickets here or a wicket and a catch so I like the over in this one.
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