NED vs AFG ICC World Cup 2023: 5 player battles
Azmatullah Omarzai has excelled with the bat for Afghanistan.

Netherlands will take on Afghanistan in match number 34 of the World Cup 2023 at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium, Lucknow, on Friday, November 3. Given that both teams have beaten big sides in the tournament, this clash could be a close one. If we look at the points table ahead of the game, the Netherlands are eighth, with four points from six games. In their last match, they got the better of Bangladesh by 87 runs. Afghanistan have done even better. They are sixth, with six points from six games. Both teams will look to win to keep their hopes of qualification alive.

The Dutch were highly impressive in their triumph over Bangladesh. Batting first, they yet again recovered from a poor start to post a decent 229 on the board. Their bowlers then came to the party as Bangladesh were bowled out for 142 in 42.2 overs. Looking at Afghanistan, they, too, came up with a highly clinical display in their seven-wicket triumph over Sri Lanka. Batting first, the Lankans were held to 241, a target Afghanistan chased down in 45.2 overs. On that note, here are five player battles to watch out for in the Netherlands-Afghanistan match.

Wesley Barresi vs Naveen-ul-Haq

To be fair to the Netherlands, their batting has struggled, and the middle and lower order has bailed them out of trouble numerous times. 39-year-old Wesley Barresi, playing his first match of the 2023 World Cup against Bangladesh, showed some defiance, scoring a resilient 41 off 41, although he would be disappointed not to have carried on. Barresi’s knock gave the Netherlands some platform after their openers Vikramjit Singh and Max O’Dowd fell cheaply again. With all his experience, Barresi could be the Dutch team’s answer to their top-order woes.

Afghanistan pacer Naveen-ul-Haq has had a decent time with the ball without producing anything sensational, barring the brute to dismiss Jos Buttler. In six matches, he has claimed six wickets, picking up some crucial scalps. Naveen-ul-Haq claimed two wickets each in the games against New Zealand and Pakistan. He went wicketless against Sri Lanka and would be looking to get back among the wickets. The scalp of Barresi against the Netherlands would be a significant one.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz vs Logan van Beek

Afghanistan would be pleased that destructive opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz has lived up to his reputation of being a dangerous striker of the ball. The batter has been one of the many reasons behind Afghanistan’s memorable and historic World Cup campaign. Gurbaz slammed 80 off only 57 balls in the triumph over England. Against Pakistan, he smashed 65 off 53 as the team eased to victory in a chase of 283. As Afghanistan look to try and push for one of the four semi-final slots, Gurbaz’s performance against the Netherlands could be significant.

All-rounder Logan van Beek has been one of the star performers for the Netherlands in the 2023 World Cup. With this right-arm pace, the 33-year-old has claimed nine scalps. Van Beek registered brilliant figures of 3/60 in the historic win over South Africa. He also claimed 4/74 in the disappointing loss to Australia. In the game against Bangladesh, he chipped in with a figure of 1/30. Van Beek is someone who always seems to be among the wickets, and this knack is really helping the team. Can he knock over Gurbaz cheaply in the match on Friday?

Scott Edwards vs Rashid Khan

Netherlands captain Scott Edwards has led from the front with the bat in quite the literal sense. He has shown the way to the team. Beginning his campaign with a duck against Pakistan, the Dutch skipper has been a significant contributor with the willow in both of Netherlands’ win in the 2023 World Cup. He scored an unbeaten 78 off 69 as Netherlands upset South Africa in Dharamsala. In the team’s 87-run triumph over Bangladesh in Kolkata, he contributed a defiant 68 off 89 balls.

Afghanistan will need to see the back of Edwards early for them to have a good chance of beating the Netherlands. Leg-spinner Rashid Khan could be key here. The 25-year-old, who has played 100 ODIs now, has done a reasonable job with the ball, but much more will be expected of him against the Netherlands. He claimed a three-for in the win over England, but since then, he has claimed only two wickets in the last three games. Rashid has kept things tight, though. Can he frustrate Edwards into a false stroke by stifling him?

Rahmat Shah vs Aryan Dutt

Rahmat Shah has brought all his experience into play in the 2023 World Cup to play an important role in securing vital wins for Afghanistan. Rahmat had a poor start to the World Cup, registering scores of 18, 16 and 3. Since then, he has scored 36, 77 not out and 62. Both his half-centuries have come in winning causes against two former world champions – Pakistan and Sri Lanka, respectively. He will be looking to make it a hat-trick of wins to try and push Afghanistan towards another memorable win.

Young off-spinner Aryan Dutt has been impressive for the Netherlands. He has chipped in with wickets in almost every game for the team. He picked up a two-for against New Zealand and a three-for against Sri Lanka. In the last two matches, he has one scalp each. Can he get the big one of Rahmat against Afghanistan?

Azmatullah Omarzai vs Paul van Meekeren

Azmatullah Omarzai has excelled with the bat for Afghanistan. The 23-year-old smashed 62 off 69 against India after the team got off to a poor start. Versus Sri Lanka, he was in firm control, hammering six fours and three sixes in his unbeaten 73 off 63 balls. Can he carry on his batting momentum in the match against the Netherlands?

Paul van Meekeren has been one of the bowling stars for the Netherlands in the World Cup. He claimed 2/40 in the win against South Africa and came up with a stellar spell of 4/23 in the triumph over Bangladesh. Van Meekeren will be high on confidence heading into the Aghan challenge. Can he ace the battle against Omarzai if their paths meet?