x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Ten Doeschate's time to shine for Netherlands is now, against India

With reduced numbers for 2015 and chances of switching to another country less, this could be the last chance for the all-rounder.

File photo of Netherlands' Ryan Ten Doeschate bowling during a practice session in Mohali last week. Rajanish Kakade / AP Photo
File photo of Netherlands' Ryan Ten Doeschate bowling during a practice session in Mohali last week. Rajanish Kakade / AP Photo

After his dazzling 119 against England at Nagpur in the first week of the World Cup, Ryan ten Doeschate was asked whether he was inspired by the feeling of time running out.

He is already 30 and with the International Cricket Council having decided to limit the 2015 event to just 10 teams, this could be his only opportunity to showcase his skills on the biggest stage.

"I try not to think of such things," he said. But if you're Ten Doeschate or Kevin O'Brien, how can you not?

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O'Brien has already said he will not go the Ed Joyce-Eoin Morgan way - the pair who has previously played for Ireland - and try his luck with England, while Ten Doeschate has all but accepted he will never play for his native South Africa.

Two of the Cinderella stories of this World Cup, but even as they are being scripted, the authorities are getting ready to pull the red carpet from under their feet. If you are an associate cricketer, this could very well be as good as it gets.

For Ten Doeschate, who made his superb century in front of just a couple of thousand people, today is a red-letter day. With India in town and the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli on home turf, nearly 50,000 will pack into New Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla.

India did not have it all their own way against Ireland, struggling at times with both bat and ball, while the Netherlands have been disappointing after giving England such a scare in their opening game.

Ten Doeschate could do little against his home nation, with Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers inspiring a rout.

A win will guarantee India a quarter-final in Ahmedabad on March 23, but the pre-tournament favourites have looked far from intimidating in their three games so far. The batsmen have been in excellent form but the bowling has looked pedestrian apart from Zaheer Khan, whose spell with the old ball salvaged a point against England.

When Ireland were bowled out for 207, they kept the two front-line spinners, Harbhajan Singh and Piyush Chawla, wicketless. It was left to Yuvraj Singh, a part-time bowler more at ease on slow, two-paced pitches, to do the damage.

The lack of impact from the specialist slow bowlers presents the team management with a persistent headache, in a tournament where Shahid Afridi, Imran Tahir and Muttiah Muralitharan have been outstanding for their teams. Even Canada's Balaji Rao, who used to play in the Ranji Trophy for Tamil Nadu, has looked a more potent wicket-taking threat.

With so much emphasis on the batting, it is hard to see exactly how India will tweak their combination. A straight swap could see R Ashwin come in for Chawla - whose eight overs went for 56 against Ireland - but that would mean playing two off spinners.

A third pace option to supplement Zaheer and Munaf Patel is unlikely given that much of the Indian game-plan is based on taking the pace off the ball.

With Yusuf Pathan little more than an adequate sixth bowler, it is tough to see where wickets will come from if Zaheer does not strike early.

The Dutch bowlers confounded India back in 2003 with their lack of pace and disciplined lines. Tim de Leede and others may no longer be around, but it is clear that bat-speed, something that Sehwag and Kohli excelled at on a slow pitch against Bangladesh, will be crucial against an attack as slow as can be.

India are expected to win comfortably, but spare a thought for teams like the Netherlands, ignored between World Cups and then expected to be competitive.

Bas Zuiderant made his debut as an 18-year-old back in 1996. Since then, he has played just 56 matches, and only 20 against Test-playing opposition.

Kohli, who played his first game in August 2008, already has 48 caps. It is as unequal a playing field as you can imagine.

sports@thenational.ae