Ask Scotland or the Netherlands if they would have taken a single-match decider to earn qualification for the World Cup and they would have bitten your hand off.

Now, with six matches apiece under their belts, that is what it will come down to, with the second spot from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier 2023 up for grabs at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on Thursday. 

Scotland’s victory over Zimbabwe ended the hosts’ hopes of qualifying, leaving Scotland simply needing to avoid defeat against the Dutch to earn a spot in India alongside Sri Lanka. 

For the Netherlands, the equation is a little more complex – they need a win, and to overhaul Scotland’s superior net run-rate to earn a place in the top two of the Super Six. 

And having watched Scotland to them a favour by beating Zimbabwe last time out, the Dutch are thrilled at the opportunity to qualify for a first ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup since 2011. 

Skipper Scott Edwards explained: “We all watched the Zimbabwe-Scotland game together. It was heartbreaking for Zimbabwe, they have had a pretty awesome tournament bar the last couple of games.

“But that result gives us a chance to qualify for the World Cup, so the boys are pretty excited about having that opportunity. 

“We feel like we have got ourselves into a good position and we have got to play one more game of good cricket. 

“Going into every game it feels like a must-win game. At the end there is maybe a bit more hype around it but right from that first game, we have had that mindset so it doesn't change too much. 

“For us, the only thing we can really control is how we go about in playing our style of cricket.  

“The guys are extremely excited about the opportunity tomorrow. 

“We'll do our best and it would be massive to play in a World Cup in India, being such a cricket-heavy nation. That is the dream for most of our guys here.

“We've had a lot of support from our wider support and from friends and family back home. Everyone is right behind us so we'll do our best to show everyone a good game of cricket.” 

It has been quite the journey for the Netherlands, who lost their opening game to Zimbabwe in a match where the teams combined to score 634 runs. Their most important game was a dramatic Super Over victory over the West Indies in which they made 374 runs before Logan van Beek smashed 30 off the Super Over. 

Standing in their way now are Scotland, who have confounded expectations time and again. 

So much so, that it is hard to predict who goes into this game with the greater momentum, but all-rounder Michael Leask is adamant that his team are underdogs, and is very happy to be considered as such. 

He said: “Every game we are branded as an underdog. We've come into this tournament believing in our own ability, every game is the first game of the tournament and the game tomorrow is no different.  

“We have played every game like it's a final. That's the way this group goes. We've fought unbelievably hard in every single fixture and come out on the right side in most of them. 

“Who would have thought it would be us v Holland to go through to the World Cup? Two teams who you would probably have said might finish fifth or sixth. Two teams who are fighting it out for a place in a World Cup.” 

In 2018, a five-run DLS defeat to the West Indies ended Scotland’s hopes of making the World Cup, with rain coming down and cutting short their chase. 

Leask was in the middle that day when conditions intervened, but after earning revenge over the Windies in the Super Six, he and the team are keen to show they have the match-winners in their side to go one better than five years ago. 

He added: “2018 hurt a lot of us and a lot of the squad are still here. The performances on the park have shown that we're not going to give up, we're never going to give up in this tournament.

“There are guys in every single game putting their hand up for the shirt. Tomorrow, it might be three guys have to do it, it might be one, but it might be all 11 of us who have to do something special to win the game.”