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The Dutch go in with a prayer

The Hague: The cricketing outpost of the Netherlands were kings of the ICC Trophy in 2001 when they were crowned champions beating Namibia in the finals and qualified for the World Cup.

Now they go into the South African showpiece publicly pledging confidence but privately fearing a hiding having been hopelessly outclassed at the Champions Trophy in Sri Lanka last year a tournament which was virtually a mini-World Cup.

There they were defeated by Pakistan by nine wickets and by the hosts by 206 runs a brutal early taste of what they can expect in southern Africa where they have been placed in group A with world champions Australia, Pakistan, India, England, Zimbabwe and Namibia. They are led by veteran skipper Roland Lefebvre who was also in charge when the Dutch first made the finals back in 1996.

With eight of their squad having had their first taste of international cricket in Sri Lanka, much will be depend on Lefebvre and De Leede. Lefebvre, now 40, played County cricket for Somerset and Glamorgan while all-rounder De Leede, a former skipper had played for Northamptonshire, Sussex and Surrey. The Dutch will be happy with any experience gained and will hope for at least a win over Namibia to stimulate interest in the sport at home.

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