Namibia shock Ireland to qualify for World T20 Super 12s

Fast start followed by costly batting display as Ireland’s campaign comes to an end

Mark Adair’s side injury proved costly as Namibia punished the Irish death bowling to secure the win that enables them progress to the Super 12s. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Inpho

Mark Adair’s side injury proved costly as Namibia punished the Irish death bowling to secure the win that enables them progress to the Super 12s. Photograph: Pankaj Nangia/Inpho

 

Namibia 126-2 (18.3 overs) (Gerhard Erasmus 53*, David Wiese 28*; Curtis Campher 2-14) defeat Ireland 125-8 (20 overs) (Paul Stirling 38, Kevin O’Brien 25; Jan Frylinck 3-21) by eight wickets

A brutal late partnership from David Wiese and skipper Gerhard Erasmus broke Irish hearts as Namibia secured an eight-wicket win in Sharjah to progress to the Super 12s of the World T20.

With both teams needing a win to move on to the next stage, Ireland started the day brilliantly as Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien put Wednesday’s disappointing batting performance behind them with a boundary-laden opening partnership. However, a Namibian fightback with the ball ensured a final total of 125-8 that proved to be too small for Ireland to defend.

Irish openers

Out of the 10 most recent games at Sharjah, the team batting second has won seven. Perhaps then Andrew Balbirnie’s choice to bat first at the toss looked a touch puzzling but he wanted his in-form bowling attack to be deciding the game later on.

Openers Stirling and O’Brien initially backed up their skipper’s decision, bludgeoning their way to 55-0 off the first six overs. Stirling was the aggressor, regularly backing away to access his favoured off side before offering up a gorgeous check-drive over mid on.

O’Brien also chipped in by punishing Jan Frylinck twice over mid off in the same over.

After we saw a tournament-best powerplay score, a dramatic change in conditions ensued. Once the field went back, the scoring rate dried up as the truly slow nature of the pitch was exposed by the softer ball.

Out of the 11 boundaries Ireland hit in their innings, only three came after the first six overs. Once Stirling and O’Brien both picked out fielders in the deep in consecutive overs, the Irish middle order struggled to pick up where they left off.

The Namibian attack deserves a lot of credit. Greylinck responded to being taken apart by O’Brien to return and remove Balbirnie and Curtis Campher with a pair of slower balls. His figures of 3-21 are the best returned by a Namibian at a World T20.

The experienced David Wiese also had a lot of joy bowling cutters into the pitch, getting Gareth Delany play through his shot too early and miss a straight delivery. The former South Africa international then started adding the odd yorker to his repertoire at the death to make scoring even harder.

A much-needed boundary flurry never came as Namibia found regular wickets. Despite a last ball farce where an overthrow and a missed run out gifted Ireland three runs off what should have been a dot ball, the African side would have been delighted with restricting Ireland to 125-8.

Recent form says that the team that wins the powerplay in Sharjah goes on to win the game. Namibia’s 27-1 – the sole wicket coming when O’Brien took a stunning leaping catch to remove Craig Williams – paled in comparison to Ireland’s effort in their first six overs.

The prognosis looked good then, especially as diving stops from Harry Tector, Balbirnie and Stirling set the tone in the field for defending a low total, albeit Stirling paid a price as he had to depart with an apparent hand injury.

Things got worse on the injury front as Mark Adair – a vital option with the ball – pulled up with what looked like a side strain. To add insult to literal injury, the problem surfaced one ball after Ireland failed to review an LBW decision against Gerhard Erasmus that would have gone their way.

David Wiese

Despite the depleted bowling stocks, Ireland looked in control after 13 overs. The match-winning difference then? Only one player came in during the middle overs and made scoring look easy.

That man was David Wiese.

After a tight few overs from O’Brien, Simi Singh and Curtis Campher led to Zane Green offering O’Brien another chance for a leaping catch, Wiese came in and turned the game on its head with a pair of maximums over the leg side.

Erasmus supported well by regulalry rotating the strike, but you knew it wasn’t Ireland’s day when Craig Young, bowling at 129km/h (80mph), hit the captain’s off stump only for the bail to remarkably stay in its groove.

The loss of Adair and his skills at the death looked costly. Erasmus brought up his half-century in the 19th over with a boundary over the off side. A few balls later, Wiese followed suit, hitting the winning runs to send his side through to the next round of the competition for the first time in their history at the expense of what is a young Irish group. 

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