The United Arab Emirates won their first-ever game at the ICC Men’s T20 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.
Led 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.
Here’s a look at the reactions from the thriller between UAE and Namibia:
(Text inputs from AFP)