Namibia rips apart Asian champions in T20 World Cup 2022 opener
By Indraneel Chakrabarty: Namibia registered a historic 55-runs victory over Asian Champion Sri Lanka at Simonds Stadium in the Australian state of Victoria. The island nation, which went festive after their boys clinched an unprecedented win in Dubai against favourites Pakistan to lift the T20 Asia Cup 2022 title on September 11, found themselves in the middle of the water, a month after.
Sri Lankans began well, with some quality fielding. Dhananjaya de Silva took an excellent running catch at the deep square leg. Till the 15th over, Sri Lanka’s spinners were spot on, and their seamers proved difficult to score off. Namibia, 93/6 with 34 balls remaining, were in the dumps, with the cream of their batting in the dugout. Frylinck and Smit’s critical 7th-wicket partnership – 70-runs off the last 34-balls – helped Namibia post a competitive 163/7.
Namibia enabled its fierce avatar in the 2nd innings as their seamers scythed through the Sri Lankan line-up, with Ben Shikongo effecting a double-strike inside the powerplay. Bowlers David Wiese and M-o-M Frylinck, too, got wickets at critical junctures. Sri Lanka’s openers, pivotal in their Asia Cup triumph, could not register double digits.
Mendis dispersed first, caught by wicket-keeper Green off David Wiese’s bowling, top-edging an attempted pull. Ben Shikongo claimed the 2nd opener Nissanka, caught as he failed to clear mid-on. The very next delivery, Shikongo got Danushka Gunathilaka to edge keeper Green. After that, the Namibian bowlers proceeded to unravel the Lankan middle order. The steeply mounting required rate had the Lankans hunting for boundaries. Rajapaksa, with skipper Shanaka, briefly stitched a 34-run partnership.
With Namibia’s bowlers exploiting Geelong’s surface slowness, mixing their pace, the Sri Lankan fortunes nose-dived. Geelong’s slow surface was rewarding pace off the ball. In 42 deliveries, Sri Lanka lost five wickets, accumulating a boundary-less 25 runs. Where the Namibian seamers impressively profited during the 10th to 7th overs, left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz snared 2 for 18 in his quota of 4 overs.
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In the T20I World Cup’s 2021 edition, Namibia defeated newly inducted full-member Ireland to advance into the main draw. In this edition, they have meted out a humiliating defeat to the newly jewelled Asia Cup champions, a side which won their last five successive T20Is. Credit to Pierre de Bruyn, head coach Namibia cricket team, for ‘running such a tight ship’ with limited resources and installing a winning culture in the side.
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