USA 250/7 (50) (Aaron Jones 103*, Hayden Walsh 57, JJ Smit 5/63) defeated Namibia 248 all out (Gerhard Erasmus 92, Jean Bredenkamp 55, Ali Khan 5/46) by 2 wickets.
Windhoek – Wanderers was once again the location of top drawer World Cricket League 2 action as the USA claimed a crucial win to kickstart their campaign. Ali Khan picked up where he left off yesterday, picking up a five wicket haul, moving him to nine for the tournament.
Namibia won the toss and bowled, with a juicy wicket dished up by Wanderers ground staff. As light rain drizzled across town early one, JJ Smit extracted life in the deck, removing both American openers with edges behind. Using natural angle across the right-hander, Smit piled on the pressure to have USA 23/2 inside 7 overs.
Despite this early pressure, Steven Taylor and Aaron Jones remained positive in their approach, and were rewarded for their play with a much quicker outfield than their match yesterday at United. Heading towards 100, Taylor’s sweep off Zhivago Groenewald was middled out to square leg, though Stephen Baard moved well to his left to take an excellent catch.
Bernard Scholtz bowled well to keep the Americans at bay with his left arm orthodox in a typical, miserly display. Scholtz looks to be picking up where he left off last year at the same tournament.
Despite the tight bowling from Scholtz, the others around him struggled to hold Jones, who was now joined by Hayden Walsh Jr. Passing the hundred-run partnership Jones and Walsh played exceptional cricket with shots all around the wicket. Jones played an incredible charging drive off Jan Frylinck in the 44th over, striking the most incredible straight drive over the sight-screen and towards the Emerging Cricket accommodation for the tournament. Jones finished on 103 not out from 124 balls at the end of the innings. JJ Smit, sharp in his opening spell, was rewarded with 5/63 from his 10 overs.
USA finished with a round 250 from their fifty overs in a score that looked 15-20 above par. Jones was accompanied by late swinging by Jaskaran Malhotra and Tim Patel, who was run out on the last ball of the innings.
Namibia’s chase began terribly, with JP Kotze adjudged LBW off Ali Khan by Tarbarak Dar despite streamed coverage showing that the ball may have been missing the leg stump. The home crowd were livid with the decision, with Cricket Namibia consultant and former South African international HD Ackerman pacing around the VIP centre of the ground in frustration.
Namibia’s plan of chasing down the total again met a roadblock with Stephen Baard departing soon after. Ali Khan picked up his second (and sixth for the tournament) after the opener for Namibia picked out Monank Patel on the fence. Namibia, reeling at 7/2, were in an early hole.
Gerhard Erasmus joined Jean Bredenkamp in the middle, and the pair looked immovable at times in their partnership of 149. Despite the best efforts of spin in the middle overs from Karima Gore and Nosthush Kenjige, the pair moved the ball well away from the field, consistently moved around by captain Netravalkar.
Even when Ali Khan was brought back to pick up one of the two batsmen in the key partnership, Namibia was up to the task. Bredenkamp showed who had the upper hand with a magnificent front foot pull shot over the mid-wicket rope for six. The CPL and USA hero then bowled a no-ball later in the over, perhaps a telling sign that momentum at the time was swinging in Namibia’s favour.
Netravalkar brought himself one to break the partnership and his courage was rewarded. Gerhard Erasmus, who had done so well to bring his country into favouritism, played a false shot perhaps to give his wicket up. Not adjusting to the slower ball by the opposing captain, Erasmus top-edged the delivery and found Aaron Jones at cover.
Netravalkar’s leadership came into question yesterday against Oman, though he rested any doubts with his calm performance not only as captain, but with the ball as well. Not only did he remove Bredenkamp, with thanks from a great Ali Khan catch in the deep, but he also removed the dangerous JJ Smit, who had a lusty six into the leg side minutes earlier. At 233/6 with two and a half overs left and 18 to win, Namibia’s long tail was set to be tested.
Again Netravalkar timed his team’s run to near perfection, giving Ali Khan overs 47 and 49 to steal victory from the host nation. His move to save Ali Khan was a masterstroke, as he took his individual tally of wickets from two to five in one over. Viljoen, Frylinck and Scholtz departed in the six ball stretch, with an easy LBW shout given to remove Viljoen, Frylinck’s stumps being disturbed, and Bernard Scholtz’s on-drive not escaping Steven Taylor wide of mid-off, metres outside the circle after a leading edge.
After Ali’s three-wicket over, it made the match a one-wicket affair, with the home side needing seven to win the match. Netravalkar stuck with himself in an ultimate test of nerve, and it was a test that he won. Despite four runs off the first three balls, Zhivago Groenewald, perhaps under the pressure of finishing the job, took off for a quick single during the fourth ball, as it trickled onto the leg side. The USA captain, with poise and calmness in the thick of the pressure, underarmed into the stumps, running out Groenewald by a distance. USA held on to win by two runs.
Ali Khan, with his 5/46 from his ten overs, was adjudged man of the match.