The Netherlands are gearing up to face the beleaguered defending champion, England, in their upcoming World Cup match, with Dutch assistant coach Ryan van Niekerk expressing the team's readiness to take on the "best England possible."
England's title defense have been marred by six losses in seven matches, setting the stage for a crucial encounter against the giant-killing Dutch squad in Pune.
As the penultimate match for both teams approaches, the Netherlands, who have already stunned South Africa and Bangladesh in the tournament, maintain a deep respect for their English opponents. Van Niekerk, in acknowledging England's status as world champions, emphasised their preparedness, saying, "They've prepared just as much."
He drew an analogy from South Africa, his homeland, saying, "Never underestimate a wounded buffalo," highlighting the formidable reputation of the English side.
Van Niekerk stressed that, regardless of England's recent performance, they possess the potential to deliver exceptional performances at any given moment. Hence, the Dutch team's preparation is centred around facing the best version of England possible.
The Netherlands, led by Scott Edwards and coached by Ryan Cook, made an early impact in the tournament by defeating high-flying South Africa. However, their campaign has lacked consistency, resulting in just two wins out of seven matches, positioning them ninth, one place above England in the standings.
Despite the World Cup campaigns nearing their conclusion, there is still much at stake, including qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy. The top seven teams from this World Cup will secure entry into the tournament, where hosts Pakistan will receive automatic qualification.
Van Niekerk reflected on the team's growth over the past two years and the newfound significance of every game. He noted that each match holds significance, irrespective of whether it's contributing to their qualification for the Champions Trophy or pursuing a spot in the semi-finals.
England's fielding coach, Carl Hopkinson, highlighted the team's continued motivation to excel, despite just one win (against Bangladesh) in the tournament. He emphasised the importance of their remaining matches, saying, "I don't think there's ever a dead rubber when you play for England." England needs two wins to qualify for the Champions Trophy.
Hopkinson acknowledged the team's ability to perform under pressure and expressed their need to regain that form. He stated, "It's about executing under pressure, isn't it? It's an incredibly skilled and talented team, but at key moments, we haven't executed under pressure like we normally do."