Ireland’s bowlers can defuse Namibia’s ‘bomb squad’ and secure spot in Super 12s

New venue in Sharjah could see a high-scoring encounter in winner-takes-all tie

Josh Little has had an outstanding tournament with the ball for Ireland. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Inpho

Josh Little has had an outstanding tournament with the ball for Ireland. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Inpho

 

T20 World Cup: Ireland v Namibia, Sharjah, Friday, 11am Irish time – Live on Sky Sports

From the moment the World T20 draw was made and Ireland were put in a group alongside the Netherlands, Namibia and Sri Lanka, Friday’s last initial group game against the African side was earmarked by many as the defining clash.

Sri Lanka were always favourites to top the group. While Wednesday’s defeat to them was disappointing, a comprehensive victory over a fancied Dutch outfit earlier this week leaves Ireland taking on Namibia knowing the winner will join the world’s top sides in the Super 12s.

Those involved in elite sport will never see losing a game – as Ireland did against Sri Lanka – as part of the plan, but Ireland coach Graham Ford did admit after that loss that this is a situation he would have taken before arriving in the UAE.

“Of course [we would have]. Obviously you’re always greedy as a coach. You want to win everything and you want to have a nice easy last fixture and say ‘well, we’re already through’.

“But realistically you attack that we’re still alive, we’re still in the competition, and that’s the important thing.”

On paper Ireland are favourites. There has only been one competitive meeting between these two before. Ireland came out on top in the 2019 qualifiers for this World T20.

That being said, Namibia have already exceeded pre-tournament expectations by beating the Netherlands in impressive fashion, chasing down a good total of 164.

Namibian coach Pierre de Bruyn labelled his side’s middle order as the ‘bomb squad’ in the build-up to the tournament. Aside from the fact that he has blatantly stolen the line from Rassie Erasmus and the Springboks, De Bruyn’s bomb squad did back him up in the Netherlands win, no one more so than David Wiese with his match-winning knock of 66 off 40 balls.

Ireland head coach Graham Ford is preparing for a new venue in Sharjah for Friday’s winners-takes-all clash with Namibia. Photograph: Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho
Ireland head coach Graham Ford is preparing for a new venue in Sharjah for Friday’s winners-takes-all clash with Namibia. Photograph: Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Namibia’s middle order may be destructive, but Ireland have the edge on the bowling front. Josh Little is in career best form having taken five wickets with an economy of less than a run a ball across the two games so far, while Mark Adair and Craig Young have also been economical.

Namibian left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz is in decent form, but generally their attack has been more expensive than Ireland’s so far in the tournament. Such figures bode well for an Irish batting line-up that will be looking to put Wednesday’s Sri Lanka disappointment behind them.

It is difficult to predict what changes may or may not be made to the Ireland side given Friday’s game takes place at a new venue, Sharjah. Ford acknowledged that he has spoken to people who have recently played at the ground, but declined to reveal what he has learned about conditions there.

Sharjah has historically been a flat batting paradise, but it played more slowly and was more receptive to spin during the recent IPL. If this trend continues, Ireland do have spinners Ben White and Andrew McBrine waiting in the wings.

Playing more than one spinner would certainly be harsh on one of the pace trio of Little, Young and Adair who impressed against Sri Lanka, while Curtis Campher showed his game-changing ability against the Netherlands.

Big decisions lie ahead then. The most likely change would be White or McBrine to come in for Simi Singh who has been a touch expensive.

Ireland were trending upwards before the Sri Lanka game. Expect them to regroup and beat a competitive Namibia side, ensuring progression in a World T20 for the first time since 2012.

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