Barresi back as Pakistan come to town

With none of their county-contracted players available the Dutch squad for the Super League series against Pakistan, which starts in Rotterdam on Tuesday, has a somewhat different complexion from that which took on England in June.

The pace attack will comprise Logan van Beek, Ryan Klein, Bas de Leede and Viv Kingma, but the most significant changes are the return of Wesley Barresi and the inclusion for the first time of the 20-year-old VOC off-spinner Arnav Jain, who could be in line to make his ODI debut on his home ground.

Jain has bowled impressively for his club this season, taking 19 wickets at an average of 23.16, and was outstanding in VOC’s finals-day defence of their T20 Cup title.

But it is the return of the experienced Barresi which is the most interesting move: he has made 4614 runs for the Netherlands across all formats, and in 37 ODIs has 927 at an average of 35.65, but he has not appeared in the national side since 2019, and at one point announced his retirement from international cricket before recovering his appetite for the game.

He, too, has been in excellent club form, making 416 runs for HBS so far this season at an average of 46.22, and his 113 against Punjab on 11 June confirmed that he has lost nothing of his run-making ability.

He could provide some much-needed substance in a Dutch top order which has started well this summer through the opening partnership between Max O’Dowd and Vikram Singh, but which has found it difficult to maintain the momentum outside the powerplay once the openers were gone.

With Tom Cooper also back in the side, De Leede in great form during the T20 series against New Zealand, and new captain Scott Edwards having batted consistently against the West Indies and England, the Dutch top order looks in much better shape to take on the Pakistanis, who arrive on the back of Super League series wins against Australia and Sri Lanka.

In addition to that potential six the selectors will also be able to call on Musa Ahmad and Teja Nidamanuru, the latter having made a half-century on his international debut against the West Indies but having undergone a lean spell since.

The 16-man squad for this series has no room for leg-spinner Philippe Boissevain or left-armer Clayton Floyd, but it does include two off-spinners in Aryan Dutt and Jain, along with the left-armer Tim Pringle and young leg-spinner Shariz Ahmad, who looks increasingly confident with every outing.

The Dutch side will, however, need to be at its very best against Pakistan, who have brought a full-strength squad for this series.

It is captained by Babar Azam, who averages 59.22 with the bat in his 89 ODIs and who will doubtless be preceded to the crease by the prolific Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, who have both played more than fifty ODIs and who average 45.27 and 54.78 respectively.

The pace attack will be drawn from Shahnawaz Dhani, Mohammad Wasim, Haris Rauf, the left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi and ODI newcomer Naseem Shah, who at 19 is already the veteran of 13 Tests.

And given the historical record of the Dutch against Pakistani spinners, a stern test is likely to be provided by the leg breaks and googlies of Shadab Khan, the leg-spin of Zahid Mahmood, and slow left-armers Khushdil Shah and Mohammad Nawaz.

Apart from Naseem Shah the other newcomers to the ODI squad are Salman Ali Agha and Abdullah Shafiq; both have appeared for Pakistan in Tests, and Shafiq has two Test centuries, the higher of them an unbeaten 160 against Sri Lanka in Galle last month.

The series may again prove a tough test for Scott Edwards’ side, but at the very least he and the coaching staff will be looking for further progress at this demanding level, and for plenty of entertainment for the Dutch cricketing public as this unprecedented summer of international cricket draws to a close.

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