Day four of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup saw Group A provide some drama as Namibia secured the country’s first-ever World Cup win and Sri Lanka sealed their spot in the Super 12 with a victory over Ireland in the day’s second match. We look at the biggest talking points from the day.
NAMIBIA V NETHERLANDS
MATCH CENTRE | MATCH REPORT
Namibia’s historic moment is fully deserved
Namibia’s first-ever men’s World Cup win is a magical moment, but it was fully deserved after an impressive all-round performance in Abu Dhabi.
The five-strong bowling attack all executed their plans, with no bowler going at more than eight-an-over, and JJ Smit coming back with two terrific sets late on to help tie the Netherlands down.
And while the late fireworks will take the headlines, the run-chase was built on a solid platform by the top three, before Gerhard Erasmus, David Wiese and JJ Smit produced the magical finish.
Next and final Group A opponents Ireland will have watched this match with some trepidation–Namibia are a force to be reckoned with.
The ‘bomb squad’ explode into life
Namibia head coach Pierre de Bruyn coined his team’s middle-order hitters as the ‘bomb squad’ ahead of the tournament. And they more than lived up to that nickname with a remarkable display of power-hitting to see off the Netherlands.
Erasmus and Smit cranked out two fast-paced knocks themselves. But it was all-rounder Wiese who effectively won it for his side, with his 66 off just 40 balls featuring nine boundaries, including five sixes. That means the 36-year-old hit more sixes in the match than every other batter on both sides combined.
O’Dowd underlines his class
His efforts with the bat may have been in a losing cause again, but Max O’Dowd’s second half-century of the tournament underlined his status as one of the performers of the World Cup so far.
His 51 against Ireland was classy, and he almost carried his bat against Namibia, falling inside the final over for 70.
Sri Lanka await next up for the Dutch, and they will be looking to O’Dowd to deliver again if they are to pull off a huge upset.
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SRI LANKA V IRELAND
MATCH CENTRE | MATCH REPORT
Ireland’s attack can trouble the best
Ireland’s bowlers have shown in their opening two matches that they have the tools to be a real threat if they progress to the Super 12 stage.
It was Curtis Campher with four wickets in four balls who lit up the opening match, with Mark Adair quietly recording some impressive numbers in his shadow. And Adair was solid again as he played second-fiddle to the attention-grabbing feats of Josh Little against Sri Lanka.
Little came into the tournament with plenty of hype behind him, but he showed why he’s so highly rated with two peachy deliveries in his first over to reduce Sri Lanka to eight for three.
Ireland will perhaps rue the decision to stick to the bowling plans and not continue bowling Little early on with Sri Lanka on the ropes. As it was, the youngster was held back for the death overs, where he came back to dismiss both Bhanuka Rajapaksa for 1 and well-set opener Pathum Nissanka for 61(47). But by then much of the damage had been done in Sri Lanka’s recovery.
Hasaranga is a T20 gem
It is not new information that Wanindu Hasaranga is a world-class T20 player. But the Sri Lankan all-rounder underlined his quality with a breath-taking knock to lead the recovery against Ireland on Wednesday.
Sri Lanka were in a whole heap of trouble with three wickets down inside the opening two overs. But Hasaranga, coming in at number five, steadied the ship before leading a counter-attack then set up a competitive score for his side.
By the time the 24-year-old fell for 71 off just 47 balls, Sri Lanka were back in a strong position in the match, and they largely had their star man to thank.
For him to be such a destructive option with the bat as well as arguably the team’s top option with the ball makes him one of the most valuable players at the tournament.