Namibia 181-5 (Erasmus 52, Baard 51, Bhudia 1-6) defeated Kenya 94 all out (18.5) (Rakep Patel 30, Gandhi 22, Scholtz 4-12) by 87 runs.
Namibia’s pressed their case for T20 World Cup qualification in Dubai today, with an emphatic 87-run win against Kenya.
Gerhard Erasmus won the toss and elected to bat, and despite the early loss of Niko Davin, Namibia looked in control with the run rate ticking along at eights. Stephen Baard and JP Kotze, who have combined several times with success in 2019, looked ominous by manipulating the field with great footwork.
Baard took the aggressor role in a role-reversal, with sweeps and lofted drives taking him to a strike rate well over 150. Kotze took a little longer to get going, though still muscled a couple of trademark front-foot pulls to continue the charge.
Shem Ngoche’s left arm orthodox failed to tie down the left-right combination, and Lucas Oluoch was perhaps a little unlucky with an inside edge from Baard not going onto the stumps. Baard backing away belted another boundary next ball, piling on the pressure with his signature back-foot square drive.
In a special Dubai version of Freaky Friday, Baard raced to 32 off 16 balls as Kotze settled in on 12 from 16. No matter who plundered the attack, Namibia enjoyed a strong power play, sitting at 53-1.
Kotze found success resorting to cross-bat shots with little regard to the bowlers’ lengths, with one slog-sweep placed expertly behind square on the leg-side away from the fielders stacked forward of the wicket. The pair reached their 50 partnership in quick time, and provided their teammates a platform at 70-1 from 8 overs.
Kotze tried his luck one too many times, as his attempted sweep across the line saw his stumps disturbed by Sachin Bhudia. Zane Green entered, though his stay was short as he was left stranded by Aman Gandhi. Turning and diving, the ‘keeper-batsman fell well short as Gandhi’s measured underarm was professionally executed.
Baard flew to a 35-ball 50, though the opener will feel disappointed by his dismissal, falling to the wily Collins Obuya. Obuya, enjoying a successful tournament individually, strayed down the leg-side, though the sweep shot in response fell into the grateful clutches of Nelson Odhiambo.
Namibia lost their impetus in the middle overs with the loss of Kotze, Green and Baard in consecutive overs, and a second run out compounded things further. After playing a backward cut, Smit was called through by his skipper, and was caught out by the work of Oluoch at short third-man throwing to the far end. Smit lambasted himself in the aftermath, suggesting it was his hesitation that led to his downfall.
As Namibia looked down the barrel of posting a sub-150 score, the last three overs overwhelmingly swung the match back in their favour. Craig Williams showed unbelievable strength to power a straight drive into the stands off Oluoch, backing away with little forward momentum into the ball. Erasmus showed his busyness and array of shots, making the most of the Kenyan bowling that crumbled under pressure.
The 19th over bowled by Shem Ngoche went for 20 as the batting pair were fed their areas straight and on the leg-side, with two sixes and a four taking their score to 156.
Elijah Otieno was thrown the ball for the 20th over, with his first delivery an effective slower ball going for a leg bye. Attempting to go back-to-back with the variation proved greedy though, as Erasmus’ reverse lap beat the short third man for four, and rattled Otieno, who struggled for accuracy and a plan B in the rest of his over. Conceding 10 runs over the next three balls, Otieno delivered a gift of a full toss for Erasmus to jump all over, and as the ball hit the seats several rows back, the square-leg umpire’s arm was outstretched to signal a no ball. Erasmus scurried for two runs off the last legal delivery, and was also gifted an overthrow, to take him to 52 from 25 balls.
With 182 to win on a patchy deck that had been used for the PNG/Singapore match earlier in the day, Kenya trudged off the ground knowing that they let their African rivals off the hook. Ngoche may have also rued not bowling Bhudia for more than his one over, as four of his bowlers had economies of nine or over.
Kenya found no rhythm in their reply, with a run out of their own starting the rot. Erasmus backed up his batting effort with a clean pick up and throw to dismiss Irfan Karim, and the dangerous Dhiren Gondaria was claimed by Christi Viljoen, who undid the number three for pace. Hitting his bat high on the splice, Viljoen followed through to complete a caught and bowled.
The left-arm orthodox of Bernard Scholtz suffocated the Kenya middle order, with no partnership able to build. Claiming the wickets of Gandhi, Jasraj Kundi, Obuya and Ngoche by allowing no width, Scholtz had all but finished the match off, finishing with figures of 4-12.
With net run rate in mind, Namibia showed no respite. Jan Frylinck beat the defences of Rakep Patel who was one of few positive performers for Kenya, and JJ Smit cleaned up the tale with figures of 3-19 to complete the performance.
With a strengthened position in the group Namibia are now in the hunt for a top three finish, to give themselves two bites of the cherry in the playoff stages. By contrast, Kenya are effectively out of the qualification race after today’s defeat.
A scorecard of the match can be found here.
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