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South Africa-Netherlands match to take place in Dharamshala

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South Africa will aim to maintain their winning streak intact against the Netherlands at Dharamshala today. The match will begin at 2 pm.

Dharamsala wasn’t ready for its close-up on Monday. Rain, fuelled by a wild wind and snow on the bleakly brooding Dhauladhar mountains, part of the Middle Himalayas, had been falling hard enough to wake the sleeping from soon after the sun had risen behind a curtain of clouds. All of 31 millimetres was predicted to soak these famous peaks and valleys before the day was out, with another 8.2 millimetres forecast for Tuesday afternoon.

Consequently one of the most enthusiastically photographed grounds in cricket seemed in need of dark glasses, a headscarf and men in black suits to protect it from the paparazzi. Outside the main entrance a large ICC banner proclaiming the presence here of the men’s World Cup had been shredded by the elements. Inside, even though two matches had been played here in the tournament, workers were apparently putting the place back together. Unlike most views of Dharamsala, it was not a pretty sight.

As beautiful as depictions are of this special place almost as far from Mount Everest as it is from the Arabian Sea, to be in it, to breathe its sharp air and feel its coolth on the skin, is to challenge the laws of cruel nature. Daring to exist here as a sentient being is a harsh way to live.

Doubtless that will apply for the match between South Africa and the Netherlands on Tuesday, and for those watching more than for those playing. But the spectators will know that already. The teams, although they have trained in these conditions in the past days having come from warmer climes, are in for a rude awakening. And, for one of them, not only in a meteorological sense.

The South Africans have swooped into Dharamsala on the wings of victories over Sri Lanka and Australia. Another win and they will have to make a right mess of things to not reach the semifinals. The Dutch have lost to Pakistan and New Zealand. Another loss and the bubble of bliss they entered by qualifying for the tournament ahead of West Indies and Zimbabwe in July will burst with a bang.

All things considered, the first outcome is exponentially more likely than the second. South Africa have the look of a settled side who have taken a firmer grip on their many strengths and few weaknesses than most. So Temba Bavuma can be forgiven for bristling ever so politely at a question during his press conference on Monday that harked back to his team’s shock defeat by the Dutch in the T20 World Cup in Australia in November.

“That was a T20 World Cup, it’s a 50-over World Cup now,” Bavuma said. “It’s a different format and a different ask in terms of your skills; being able to perform your skills for a longer period of time. That’s something we all need to appreciate.”

To reinforce his point he reminded all present that South Africa had hammered the Netherlands by eight wickets and 146 runs in two ODIs on the Highveld in March and April. If nature’s cruelty stays away for long enough on Tuesday, and his team play like they have, he won’t be asked that question again.

Squads:

South Africa Squad: Quinton de Kock(w), Temba Bavuma(c), Rassie van der Dussen, Aiden Markram, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada, Keshav Maharaj, Lungi Ngidi, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lizaad Williams, Reeza Hendricks, Andile Phehlukwayo, Gerald Coetzee

Netherlands Squad: Vikramjit Singh, Max ODowd, Colin Ackermann, Bas de Leede, Teja Nidamanuru, Scott Edwards(w/c), Sybrand Engelbrecht, Roelof van der Merwe, Ryan Klein, Aryan Dutt, Paul van Meekeren, Wesley Barresi, Logan van Beek, Saqib Zulfiqar, Shariz Ahmad

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