Two end-of-season ODIs between the Proteas and the Netherlands would not normally attract much attention – but the games this weekend are crucial for the hosts.
South Africa have yet to qualify for the World Cup in India in October and November.
They need to win both World Cup Super League matches to have a realistic chance of booking their place in the global showpiece.
Even with two wins, there is still an outside chance of being pipped by Ireland, although they will have to pull off a 3-0 upset series win against Bangladesh in May.
HIGHLIGHTS: Proteas vs West Indies (3rd ODI)
The matches in Benoni and Johannesburg are the second and third matches of a series that started in November 2021. The first match was rained off and the remaining games were postponed because of a Covid-19 scare.
Now, with South African days becoming shorter and the chill of autumn starting to bite, the Netherlands will take on a full-strength home team with several of their own best players unavailable.
Among those missing are five of the Dutch side that inflicted on South Africa one of their most humiliating setbacks – a defeat in last year’s T20 World Cup which cost the Proteas a place in the semi-finals.
South African-born Colin Ackermann, who was Man of the Match in the upset in Adelaide, has English county commitments as have Brandon Glover and Bas de Leede. Roelof van der Merwe was a late withdrawal and Logan van Beek is in New Zealand.
The Netherlands have some capable players, including batsmen Max O’Dowd, Tom Cooper and Scott Edwards and seam bowlers Fred Klaassen and Paul van Meekeren but South Africa will be clear favourites.
The Netherlands were beaten 2-1 in an ODI series in Zimbabwe before arriving in South Africa and lost to a SA Invitational XI in a warm-up game in Pretoria on Tuesday.
But the Proteas cannot afford any slip-ups, even to the extent of ensuring they do not add to the two over-rate penalties they have already incurred in the league.
With the possibility of rain showers on Friday, they will also be hoping for an uninterrupted match as they seek to add to a perfect 9-0 record at Willowmoore Park, which has not hosted an ODI since September 2016.
South Africa squad: Temba Bavuma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Marco Jansen, Heinrich Klaasen, Sisanda Magala, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen.
Netherlands squad: Scott Edwards (c, wk), Musa Ahmad, Shariz Ahmad, Wesley Barresi, Tom Cooper, Aryan Dutt, Vivian Kingma, Fred Klaassen, Ryan Klein, Paul van Meekeren, Teja Nidamanuru, Max O’Dowd, Vikramjit Singh.
Friday, 31 March, Benoni (day-night)
Sunday, 2 April, Johannesburg (day)
© Agence France-Presse