The ICC T20 World Cup 2021 Super 12 Line-up is complete. Namibia caused a surprise by progressing to the second round on their maiden World Cup appearance and former champions Sri Lanka made the grade as Group A leaders.
Namibia scored an exciting win over Ireland in a winner-takes-all Group A shootout. They timed their chase of Ireland’s 125 for eight to perfection as a half-century from skipper Gerhard Erasmus and pyrotechnics from David Wiese led Namibia, 19th in the ICC Men’s T20I team rankings coming into the tournament, to a phenomenal eight-wicket victory.
The two put on a match winning partnership of 53 in 5.1 overs as Erasmus finished 53 not out from 49 balls and Wiese, the matchwinner against Netherlands, struck an unbeaten 28 at a strike rate of 200 to also secure Namibia’s spot in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
After only making 27 in the powerplay and sitting at 49 for one at the halfway stage, it looked like Namibia may have left themselves too much to do in reply to Ireland’s innings of two halves.
Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie had elected to bat first at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, and when experienced duo Paul Stirling and Kevin O’Brien steered them to 55 without loss in the all-important powerplay, he would have been hoping for far more than the 125 they eventually mustered.
Having shared stands of just eight and 27 in their opening two games, the pair made full use of the fielding restrictions, putting on 62 for the first wicket in 7.2 overs, with Stirling looking particularly fluent on his way to a well-made 38 off 24 balls, including five fours and a six.
But when the former Middlesex man was caught at long-on off the bowling of Bernard Scholtz, attempting to land his 250th six in T20 cricket, it triggered a change in fortune for the men in green as they went on to add only 57 runs in the remaining 11.2 overs.
O’Brien soon followed for 25 as he holed out off the bowling of the impressive Jan Frylinck, who finished with Namibia’s best-ever World Cup figures of three for 21, as Ireland lost two wickets for five runs in the space of just eight balls.
Namibia made a steady start in pursuit of 126 and only a phenomenal one-handed catch from Kevin O’Brien saw the back of in-form opener Craig Williams for 15 off 16 balls off the bowling of Curtis Campher.
No.3 Erasmus survived an lbw shout on just two off Mark Adair which would have sent him packing if Ireland had reviewed but he took full advantage steering his side home.
The 15th over proved crucial as two booming sixes from Wiese changed the course of the game before Erasmus again escaped, Craig Young’s delivery clipping his stumps without dislodging the bails.
Fittingly after Erasmus had brought up his 50, it was Wiese who sealed victory with nine balls remaining, smashing a boundary off Young to spark the celebrations.
Scores: Ireland 125/8 in 20 overs (Paul Stirling 38, Kevin O’Brien 25; Jan Frylinck 3 for 21, David Wiese 2 for 22) lost to Namibia 126/2 in 18.3 overs (Gerhard Erasmus 54 not out, David Wiese 28 not out; Curtis Campher 2 for 14).
SRI LANKA TOP GROUP A
Sri Lanka’s bowlers shone as they recorded a dominant eight-wicket win over the Netherlands to top Group A in style and head into the Super 12s brimming with confidence.
Sri Lanka had already qualified for the next stage but ensured they ended the First Round with a 100 per cent record thanks to a quick-fire victory in Sharjah that took just 17.1 overs of total match-time.
Only Colin Ackermann (11) reached double figures for the Netherlands as brilliant bowling by the Lions reduced them to 37 for six at the end of the powerplay and ultimately skittled them for 44.
Lahiru Kumara ended with figures of three for seven, Wanindu Hasaranga took three for nine and Maheesh Theekshana two for three from just one over as the Dutch registered the second-lowest score in ICC Men’s T20 World Cup history, coincidentally, behind only their total of 39 in the same fixture back in 2014.
The chase was never in doubt and Kusal Perera did the bulk of the damage as his knock of 33 from 24 balls saw them home with eight wickets and plenty of time to spare.
Scores: Netherlands 44 in 10 overs (Colin Ackermann 11; Lahiru Kumara 3 for 7, Wanindu Hasaranga 3 for 9, Maheesh Theekshana 2 for 3) lost to Sri Lanka 45 for 2 in 7.1 overs (Kusal Perera 33 not out; Brandon Glover 1 for 12, Paul Van Meekeren 1 for 20)
Player of the Match: Lahiru Kumara (Sri Lanka)