Scholtz and Erasmus bowl Namibia to victory

Namibia opened their Cricket World Cup League Two campaign with a victory over Netherlands.

Namibia completed their opening League 2 skirmish with a third victory at Tribhuvan University on Friday, beating the Netherlands by 24 runs in a hard-fought duel and ensuring that they will end the initial series at the top of the table.

Overnight rain meant a delayed start, and by the time the match got under way it had been reduced to 45 overs per side.

The Eagles brought in debutant opener Malan Kruger to replace JP Kotze, while the Netherlands finally fielded a third specialist spinner, Shariz Ahmad returning in place of pace man Kyle Klein.

It was Dutch seamer Viv Kingma, however, who gave his side an early advantage after Scott Edwards had inserted the Namibians, catching the edge of Nik Davin’s bat off the third delivery of the match to give Edwards a straightforward catch, and then, after some brisk attacking cricket from Kruger and Michael van Lingen, taking a return catch from the latter to make it 33 for two.

Roelof van der Merwe had Gerhard Erasmus brilliantly caught by Noah Croes at slip, and when Monday’s hero, Aryan Dutt, bowled Kruger for a well-made 39 and had JJ Smit caught by Teja Nidamanuru two deliveries later Namibia were on 77 for five and another low total loomed.

They were rescued by Jan Frylinck and Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, who now proceeded to double the score in fourteen overs, taking the attack to the Dutch bowlers and setting up what would become the highest total of the series so far.

Shariz Ahmad finally got the breakthrough, Frylinck falling to another catch for Edwards and departing for a 57-ball 34, and four balls later Loftie-Eaton, who had outscored his partner and made 49 from 43 deliveries with six fours and two sixes, was run out just short of what would have been his seventh ODI half-century.

Zane Green chipped in with 22 and Ruben Trumpelmann finished with 23 not out, taking his side to the untold wealth of a total of 203 before Kingma returned to finish the innings off, ending with three for 19.

In the context of the series as a whole it looked like a big ask, and the Dutch reply got off to the worst possible start when Michael Levitt played back to Trumpelmann’s fourth delivery and was caught leg-before.

Max O’Dowd and Sybrand Engelbrecht pushed the scoring along at better than seven an over, forcing Erasmus to bring himself on as early as the sixth over, and he struck immediately, Engelbrecht dancing down the wicket to his second delivery to be comprehensively stumped by keeper Green.

The advent of Erasmus and Bernard Scholtz slowed the scoring rate appreciably, and although O’Dowd and Bas de Leede put on 46 for the third wicket it took them fourteen and a half overs, and the asking-rate, though not yet too demanding, was beginning to creep upwards.

After two initial overs Erasmus made way for Loftie-Eaton, who was almost equally parsimonious, but it was Scholtz, whose first five overs cost just eight runs, who really turned the screw.

And then, when Erasmus returned, he again broke through, bowling De Leede for 24, and when, after O’Dowd, on 41, hit a simple return catch to Frylinck, the Namibian captain had his opposite number, Edwards, caught for four, the Eagles were definitely on top at 94 for five.

Nidamanuru came and went, bowled by Loftie-Eaton for 14, but Coes was now joined by Shariz, and they kept the Dutch just about in touch as they added 54 for the seventh wicket, although the asking-rate had crept up towards eights.

It was Scholtz who settled the issue, returning for his last two overs amd removing first Shariz, caught by Erasmus at midwicket for 19 and then bowling Van der Merwe to end with two for 15 from his nine overs.

Croes remained to the end, unbeaten on 46, but Frylinck had Dutt caught on the long on boundary and then trapped Kingma in front, and the Netherlands were all out for 179.

Erasmus finished with three for 33 and Scholtz with two for 15; between them Erasmus, Scholtz and Loftie-Eaton had taken six for 77 in 27 overs at a collective economy rate of 2.85, compared with five for 120 at 4.44 for Dutt, Van Der Merwe and Shariz, a clear indicator of both the quality of the Namibian spin trio and the struggles of the Dutch batting against effective slow bowling.

They will face another test on Sunday, when they take on Nepal in the final match of the series in front of what seems certain to be another packed, extremely partisan crowd – the best either side can hope for is to come away with two wins from four games, and as the home team that outcome is even more important for the Nepalese than it is for Scott Edwards’s side.

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