After losing three wickets in four balls to begin the match, Scotland could post only an under-par 109
Namibia 115 for 6 (Smit 32*, Williams 23, Leask 2-12) beat Scotland 109 for 8 (Leask 44, Greaves 25, Trumpelmann 3-17, Frylinck 2-10) by four wickets
After countless clashes played in relative obscurity, two Associates gunning to go one up on the other came head to head in low, slow Abu Dhabi on the world stage. The setting may have been slightly unfamiliar, but the same couldn’t have been said about the compelling nature of the contest.
Namibia now have three wins on the bounce, having started the Super 12s in a thumping fashion. Scotland will need to regroup ahead of potentially three of their toughest clashes, against New Zealand, Pakistan and India.
Late inswing: check. Ball holding its line across: check. Short ball into the ribcage: check. Hard length into the pitch: check. An assortment of these combined to deliver three wickets in the first four balls of the match. George Munsey was out chopping on, Calum MacLeod nicking one he poked at and Richie Berrington, standing in for the injured Kyle Coetzer, taken out by late inswing. It made Ruben Trumpelmann the first bowler to take three wickets in the opening over of a T20I game.
Cross, Leask revive Scotland
Over the past three weeks, Scotland have often spoken about playing an attacking brand of cricket. At 2 for 3, could they really take a chance though? Matthew Cross and Michael Leask weathered the early storm and saw off the eventful powerplay that Scotland finished on 22 for 4, the second-lowest this World Cup behind Papua New Guinea’s 17 for 4 against Bangladesh.
Cross was far from fluent but dug in to give Leask support and the two added 39 to move on from that seismic shocks early on. Much of the runs in the stand came from Leask, who used the long handle effectively to pepper the short straight and leg-side boundary on one side. Cross, in trying to follow suit, perished to Jan Frylinck after missing a straight length delivery he backed away to slap over cover.
Namibia’s superb death overs
The secret of Namibia’s success with the ball lay in being boring and robotic with their tactics: stump-to-stump, cutters into the pitch, pace off and trying to bowl away from hitting arcs. It’s a different matter that the batters weren’t able to attack enough because of the early meltdown. Namibia’s excellent death bowling courtesy Wiese and Frylinck – they didn’t concede a single boundary in the last 25 balls – meant Scotland, despite Leask’s enterprise and the odd big hits from Chris Greaves, ended with a below-par total. They managed just 13 off the last three overs.
Namibia tread caution with the bat
Namibia openers Craig Williams and Michael van Lingen started slowly, the first 27 balls producing no boundaries off the bat as Scotland kept it tight. Pace off was working well, but their first attempt at bowling seam-ups and short in the mid-120kph led to two successive fours as van Lingen followed a thumping pull shot to the long boundary with a ferocious slap down the ground. But he perished in trying to force the pace as Safyaan Sharif got him to slice a pull to extra cover. His first two overs went for just five with Namibia ending the powerplay on 29 for 1.
Scotland’s spin trio strange Namibia
In trying to milk runs instead of going for broke, Namibia allowed Scotland a shoe in, and their spinners made quite a fist of it. A fine cocktail of Mark Watt’s skiddy left-arm spin and Leask’s loopy offbreaks led to a few flutters in the Namibian camp, after Greaves removed Zane Green at the halfway mark.
Green didn’t pick the googly and sliced a straight hit to Munsey at long-off, leaving Namibia needing 54 from the last ten overs with eight wickets in hand. But Leask left his mark seven balls later when he deceived Gerhard Erasmus with dip and turn to spin past a wild swing. Williams was brilliantly stumped after running down to Watt. At 67 for 4 in the 12th over, it was game on.
Wiese, Smit allay pressure
Scotland appeared to have had control, but in tying down Namibia with spin in the middle, Berrington look to get one over of Sharif out of the way. But with dew taking effect, the ball slid on, allowing Smit and Wiese to pick off crucial runs as the pair added 35 in 31 balls to ensure the asking rate never spiralled out of hand. Eighteen runs came from overs 15th and 16th, at which point the wheels appeared to have fallen. Wiese fell in trying to finish it off quickly, but by then he had done enough to close out the game. Namibia won eventually with five balls to spare with Smith scything a full ball from Sharif to the point boundary for six to seal the deal.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo