The United Arab Emirates won their first-ever game at a Twenty20 World Cup on Thursday to upset Namibia by seven runs and send the Netherlands into the Super 12 stage of the tournament.
The Africans would have joined Sri Lanka in the next round rather than the Dutch had they won, but against the odds, the UAE restricted them to 141-8 as they chased 149 for victory.
Zahoor Khan and Basil Hameed grabbed two wickets each as the UAE reduced Namibia to 69-7 in the 13th over before late fireworks from David Weise (55 off 36 balls) set up a tense last-over finale.
UAE skipper Chundangapoyil Rizwan won the toss and chose to bat, but it was hard going against an attack led by paceman Ruben Trumpelmann, a key performer in Namibia’s run to the second round 12 months ago.
Supported by veteran Wiese, Bernard Scholtz, JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck, they restricted UAE openers Muhammad Waseem and Vriitya Aravind to just 39 off the opening eight overs.
As the pressure mounted, Aravind (21) found an edge off Scholtz and the first wicket fell.
Waseem began opening the bat to get the scoreboard moving and with Rizwan alongside him, brought up his fifth T20 half-century, off 40 balls.
But he was gone two balls later, sending a Ben Shikongo delivery to third man into the safe hands of Trumpelmann.
They reached three figures in the 15th over before Alishan Sharafu (4) was out with Rizwan (43 not out) and Basil Hameed (25 not out) driving them towards a respectable total with 33 runs plundered from the last two overs.
In reply, Namibia lost their openers early with Stephan Baard getting a thick edge off Junaid Siddique and Ahmed Raza collecting the catch, then Michael van Lingen was caught on the ropes.
It left them at 16-2 after three overs and with their work cut out, which did not get any easier when Jan Nicol Lofti-Eaton was out lbw on review two overs later to hand India-born Hameed a second wicket.
When skipper Gerhard Erasmus was bowled by Karthik Meiyappan, who took a hat-trick against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, and JJ Smit was run out, Namibia were in disarray at 46-5.
Zahoor Khan then removed the dangerous Jan Frylinck with a yorker and Zaner Green three balls later, leaving Namibia staring into the abyss in the 13th over.
But Weise never gave up and partnered by Trumelmann (not out 25) set about rescuing his country with some power hitting, reducing the target to 20 off the last two overs only to come up short.
Sri Lanka through after win over the Netherlands
Opener Kusal Mendis slammed a 44-ball 79 as Asian champions Sri Lanka beat the Netherlands by 16 runs to sweep into the Super 12 stage of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on Thursday.
The world’s eighth-ranked team plundered 162-6, blasting 102 of them off the final 10 overs, to set a big target which the Dutch were unable to reach, finishing on 146-9.
Which Super 12 group Sri Lanka play in will be determined after the later game in Geelong between Namibia and United Arab Emirates.
A win for the African side will knock out the Dutch and send them through because they already have a superior net run rate. If the UAE upset Namibia, the Dutch will progress.
It is the third successive time Sri Lanka have reached the Super 12 and they will be hoping to repeat their heroics from 2014, when Dinesh Chandimal skippered them to the title.
But it was a rocky road to get there, stunned by Namibia in the tournament’s opening game before crushing UAE and now the Netherlands.
“We knew that we could be the number one in this group, but we missed out in the first match,” said Sri Lanka skipper Dasun Shanaka.
“The boys have done well though, especially the bowling group. I knew the wicket was two-paced, so we wanted to bowl well in the first 10 overs and then control the game.”
After winning the toss and choosing to bat, Sri Lanka started slowly with Pathum Nissanka and Mendis plodding to just 22 off the first five overs.
Nissanka was dropped in the fifth over, but came undone on 14 when hostile pace bowler Paul Van Meekeren returned to the attack and sent down a yorker.
Dhananjaya de Silva followed him back to the pavilion the next ball, out LBW, as Sri Lanka lived dangerously with countless chances falling just short of the fielders.
Charith Asalanka and Mendis knuckled down in a 60-run stand to step up the run rate before Asalanka was caught behind off all-rounder Bas de Leede for 31.
Mendis brought up his ninth T20 half-century with a six, then smacked successive sixes in the penultimate over, before he was out going for another boundary, almost carrying his bat.
Despite missing injured pace spearheads Dushmantha Chameera and Pramod Madushan, a Sri Lankan attack with replacements Lahiru Kumara and Binura Fernando kept the Dutch at bay early on.
Opener Vikramjit Singh was out for seven, caught by Shanaka off Maheesh Theekshana, then Kumara got the big wicket of rising star De Leede for 14.
The experienced Colin Ackermann went for a golden duck to the spin of Hasaranga de Silva as the Dutch reached 63-3 at halfway.
Opener Max O’Dowd (71 not out) gamely hung on but when captain Scott Edwards was bowled by Fernando after a quick-fire 21, they slumped from 100-4 to 109-8 and the game was all but over.
“A little unlucky that the chances didn’t go to hand, we let it slip a bit towards the middle and back-end,” said Edwards.