‘Completely overwhelming’ as Namibia make history at T20 World Cup
Namibia reached the Twenty20 World Cup second round for the first time on Friday when they beat Ireland by eight wickets with the team’s star player describing the moment as “completely overwhelming”.
World number 19 Namibia, the lowest-ranked side in the tournament, chased down their modest target of 126 with skipper Gerhard Erasmus making an unbeaten 53.
“We are a small country, a small number of people play cricket. We should be proud of ourselves,” said Erasmus.
Namibia finished behind Sri Lanka in Group A after the 2014 champions dismissed the Netherlands for just 44, the second lowest total in tournament history, for an eight-wicket win.
In the Super 12 stage, Namibia will face India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Afghanistan and Scotland.
Sri Lanka will be grouped with England, Australia, South Africa, defending champions West Indies and Bangladesh.
Erasmus hit three boundaries and a six in his 49-ball innings while David Wiese, who played for South Africa at the 2016 World Cup, was undefeated on 28.
“I count on my senior men to stand up when the pressure is on. And two of us did it tonight. Hopefully we can do it through the tournament,” added Erasmus who put on 53 for the third wicket with Wiese.
Wiese smashed two sixes and a boundary in a 14-ball innings which was a whirlwind in comparison to Namibia’s sedate early progress.
They were only on 49-1 at the halfway stage although, ultimately, Zane Green’s 24 off 32 balls and Craig Williams’s 15 from 16 deliveries proved to be an ideal foundation on a desperately slow surface.
– ‘Only 18 players’ –
“It’s completely overwhelming. I don’t think I deserve to be sitting here. I think the captain Gerhard Erasmus deserves to be man of the match,” said Wiese who had also taken 2-22 in the Ireland innings.
Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn hailed the achievement of his team.
“We are not an organisation with the luxury of a lot of resources around us,” he said.
“I’ve got 18 players to pick from in my national squad and I know what they’ve put in for the last three years.
“It sounds like a cliche that the hard work has paid off, but it certainly did and I’m really ecstatic for the players.”
Ireland skipper Andy Balbirnie was distraught by the loss.
“It hurts a lot. We really wanted to win but we just didn’t get enough runs,” he said.
“I think Wiese played a brilliant knock when the run-rate was at around eight an over, and their skipper saw them home.”
Ireland had appeared well set at 71-2 at the midway point of their innings but the runs dried up as Namibia’s bowlers turned the screws, restricting their opponents to 125-8.
Openers Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien gave Ireland, who won the toss and chose to bat, a flying start.
They put on 67 for the first wicket before Stirling fell to left-arm finger spinner Bernard Scholtz in the eighth over.
Stirling made 38 with five fours and his team’s only six while O’Brien hit 25.
Balbirnie contributed 21 before he fell to seamer Jan Frylinck attempting to force the pace.
Only 54 runs came off the last 10 overs with Ireland’s next seven batsmen all failing to reach double figures.
Frylinck finished with 3-21.
As well as securing the last place in the Super 12 stage, Namibia are also guaranteed a spot in the 2022 tournament in Australia.