Gerhard Erasmus led from the front with a well-crafted unbeaten fifty to guide debutants Namibia to a historic eight-wicket win over Ireland in the first round Group A match and qualification spot in Super 12s of the ICC T20 World Cup in Sharjah on Friday.
Erasmus (53 not out off 49 balls) guided Namibia’s chase of 126 in the company of David Wiese, who made an unbeaten 28.
Namibia made a quiet start to their chase. Boundaries were hard to come by for Namibia batters as they dealt mostly in singles and twos. Their struggle can be gauged from the fact that they found the fence only four times in the first 10 overs, scoring 49 for one.
Needing 77 off the last 10 overs, Erasmus and Zane Green (24) shared 48 runs for the second wicket to keep Namibia in the contest.
The duo played sensibly and brought down the equation to 55 off 42 balls and with nine wickets in hand, Namibia were clear favourites to win the contest.
But Green failed to clear Kevin O’Brien at mid-off to make the contest interesting.
After his two wickets with the ball, Wiese came to Namibia’s rescue by hitting Craig Young for back-to-back sixes in the 15th over to bring down the equation to 33 off the last five overs.
Needing 21 off 18 balls, Erasmus lofted off-spinner Simi Singh over the long-off boundary and then struck two boundaries in the 19th over off Craig Young to finish off the chase in style with nine balls remaining.
Namibia have joined Sri Lanka in the Super 12s from Group A.
Earlier, asked to bowl, Namibian bowlers made a strong comeback after Ireland made a brisk start to restrict them to a modest 125 for eight.
Ireland started brightly with Paul Stirling (38) and Kevin O’Brien (25) sharing 62 runs off just 44 balls for the opening stand.
But Namibia pulled things back by removing both the openers in quick succession as Ireland slumped to 67 for two in 8.4 overs.
After the opening partnership, Ireland innings literally fell apart as, barring skipper Andy Bilbirnie (21), no other batter could reach double-digit score.
The dismissal of Gareth Delany pegged back Ireland considerably as their batters found it difficult to keep up the scoring rate, reaching just 95 runs for the loss of three wickets at the end of the 15th over.
Bilbirnie tried his best to lift the innings but he also struggled to rotate the strike against some incisive bowling by Namibia in the second half of the innings, picking up six wickets by conceding just 54 runs in the last 10 overs.
Ireland’s problems were compounded when left-arm pacer Jan Frylinck snared two wickets in the 16th over – first Bilbirnie LBW and then Curtis Campher.
Wickets continued to tumble as Weise next accounted for Harry Tector as Ireland’s innings went from bad to worse.
Frylinck (3/21) was the pick of the bowlers for Namibia, while Wiese (2/22) also snared two wickets.
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