Mohali: South Africa take on Netherlands in the World Cup on Thursday with the Dutch side's South African-born batsman Ryan ten Doeschate looking forward to facing his former compatriots in the Group B contest.
Thursday's match will be the first of the tournament at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali and Netherlands are unlikely to mark the event with a maiden victory over the Proteas.
South Africa have had a week off, three days in Mohali to prepare, and will be welcoming key bowlers Dale Steyn and Imran Tahir and batsman JP Duminy back to full fitness.
Ten Doeschate and the Dutch, meanwhile, flew to the northern Indian city on Tuesday without the high hopes it had after nearly upsetting England.
A hefty 215-run defeat in New Delhi to West Indies — a team South Africa saw off in a seven-wicket win — brought the high-flying Dutch quickly back down to earth.
For South Africa, a straightforward start to the World Cup and a weeklong break between its first two matches has proved handy after leg-spinner Tahir, fast bowler Steyn and Duminy were ill or injured over the weekend.
Tahir had a respiratory infection, while Steyn and Duminy picked up minor niggles. They will all be ready for the Dutch match, team officials said, as South Africa intends to field its strongest lineup.
That's likely to make it far too powerful for a Netherlands outfit that had its early optimism ripped away by a ruthless West Indies.
"There's a nice competition going on because with everyone being fit for selection, we're all competing for positions," Steyn said. "When everyone is fit and there's so much time, everyone has a point to prove in practice sessions. It makes the coach and selection panel's job a bit difficult, but that's good."
Steyn hinted the South Africa squad was eager to get going again after a nine-day gap between its final warmup game and its first match of the tournament and then another week before the Netherlands.
"It's nice to have some time off," he said. "It also means that guys with niggles have a long period to recover. (But) That being said, we've already been here for three weeks. That's a long time with very little cricket."
To add to that, the pitch in Mohali is expected to suit pace more than most surfaces at the World Cup and South Africa seamers Steyn, Morne Morkel and Jacques Kallis are lining up to take advantage. There could also be a place for left-armer Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who missed the West Indies game in favor of a three-man spin attack.
A newfound versatility in its bowling attack means South Africa can swap between spin and pace, depending on the conditions.
The Dutch crumbled to West Indies' Kemar Roach, who took 6-27 and a hat-trick on Monday by bowling fast and straight. There could be more of the same from South Africa's pace attack.
Netherlands' capitulation to Roach and Co. was also another in a lengthy list of one-sided matchups at the World Cup, a trend that is very likely to continue.
"South Africa is probably one of the favourite teams here and one of the strongest teams," Ten Doeschate said. "It's a massive mismatch. Personally, (there is) obviously a little bit of an edge to it but I'm not feeling very emotional. I'm not feeling the need to impress or the need to make a point.
"The nice thing is there's not too much expectation on us."
Speaking before the West Indies match, Ten Doeschate had said playing the Proteas would be "a great opportunity" for his adopted nation, which was looking forward to "having a go" at South Africa.
That boldness disappeared for the Dutch in Delhi after the reality-check against West Indies.
"We've gone down pretty hard there," Netherlands captain Peter Borren said. "I don't really know what to put it down to. The guys just didn't turn up after what was a decent performance against England and we hope we can turn it around.
"There's no doubt we're going to have to have a good look at ourselves. Hopefully we can come back."
South Africa won the two previous ODIs between the teams, both at World Cups, with a 160-run victory in 1996 and a 221-run win four years ago — when Ten Doeschate topscored for the Dutch with 57.