The city of Nizams, Hyderabad, is gearing up to host the ICC Cricket World Cup for the third time, and the excitement among cricket enthusiasts is palpable. While the venue may have changed, the unwavering passion of the Hyderabadi crowd for cricket’s most coveted trophy remains as fervent as it was in 1987 when the city hosted its first-ever World Cup game at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium.
Match 2 of the 2023 Cricket World Cup will witness Pakistan (PAK) taking on Netherlands (NED) at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad. Pakistan, despite coming close in the 2019 Cricket World Cup, failed to advance from the group stage, with New Zealand edging them out on net run rate. On the other hand, the Netherlands is embarking on its first Cricket World Cup journey in this format since 2011. In their head-to-head clashes, Pakistan holds the upper hand, securing a narrow nine-run victory in their last ODI encounter against the Netherlands.
Pakistan enters the tournament with the belief that they are stronger contenders this time around, having narrowly missed out on the knockout stage in 2019. They appear confident about their prospects against the Netherlands in this match.
The Netherlands, often considered underdog, are expected to embrace their role in the tournament. However, they face a formidable opponent in Pakistan, making this a challenging encounter in Hyderabad.
In recent warm-up matches, Pakistan faced Australia in a high-scoring affair that saw Australia posting 351 runs. Pakistan put up a valiant effort but fell short by 14 runs. Notable performances came from Babar Azam, who scored a resilient 90 runs, and Iftikhar Ahmed, who contributed crucially with 83 runs.
The Netherlands, too, clashed with Australia in their warm-up match, albeit interrupted by rain. The match featured reduced playing time, with Australia posting 166 runs in 23 overs. The Netherlands displayed their mettle, with standout performances from Roelof van der Merwe, Bas de Leede, and Logan van Beek, each claiming two wickets.
Former Zimbabwean cricketer Christopher Mpofu, in an exclusive interview on the DAFA NEWS cricket show on NewsX, shed light on the significance of the venue ahead of the clash. He mentioned that this game between Pakistan and the relatively inexperienced Netherlands marks the maiden World Cup match to be played at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium. The stadium, which also serves as the home ground for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League, had never previously hosted World Cup matches. Hyderabad saw its first-ever ODI game here in 2005, and the city was omitted from the 2011 World Cup event held in the sub-continent. The city had a taste of World Cup action in 1987 when New Zealand faced Zimbabwe, with the Blackcaps securing victory by a mere 3 runs. In 1996, West Indies played against Zimbabwe at this venue, winning by 6 wickets. Now, Hyderabad is set to host the ICC Cricket World Cup for the third time.
Mpofu also shared insights about the pitch at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium. He stated that Hyderabad’s pitch typically favors batters due to its dry surface, with the 300-run mark being crossed five times in 14 ODI innings at RGI Stadium. He anticipates that spinners will play a pivotal role for both teams on the dry pitch. The highest score ever recorded on this ground is 350, achieved by Australia against India in 2009.
It’s worth noting that Hyderabad’s cricket landscape saw a transformation in 2005 with the inauguration of the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Uppal. In the 2023 World Cup, this modern stadium will host three league games of the ongoing mega cricket event. Situated in Uppal, it stands in contrast to the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium, which is closer to the city center.
Cricket fans in Hyderabad and around the world eagerly await this exciting clash between Pakistan and the Netherlands at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, a venue rich in history and poised to witness the drama of the Cricket World Cup once again.