New Zealand are favourites to follow Pakistan from Group 2 into the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup semifinals. They lost a close match to Pakistan and have been impressive against Indian and Scotland. So, they should have little difficulty in overcoming the challenge of Namibia on Friday.
Skipper Kane Williams’ side is not without worries. Batting hasn’t been as authoritative as they would have liked, but New Zealand always had a batsman to haul them out of the woods. Although Williamson continues to be the steadying influence, the Kiwis would be buoyed by the return to form of Martin Guptill, an excellent stroke-player.
His 53-ball 93 was instrumental in shoring up New Zealand, who ran into trouble against the exuberant bunch of Scottish bowlers. His batting will be a significant factor in New Zealand’s progress in the tournament.
Darren Mitchell silenced his critics with a rollicking knock that felled India. And New Zealand must be waiting on Devon Conway to be among the runs soon.
The bowling led by left-arm seamer Trent Boult is incisive and varied, with speedster Adam Milne and swing expert Tim Southee bringing different dimensions to the attack. But in the slow wickets of UAE, spinners Michael Santner and Ish Sodhi have been more effective, and they could play a decisive role in the Sharjah tie against Namibia.
For Namibia, the T20 World Cup has been one of their best outings. They have a bunch of players considered the golden generation of a country with a short cricketing history. Many players, including captain Gerhard Erasmus, have been inspired by Namibia’s performance in the 2003 World Cup in South Africa.
David Wiese, Jonathan Smit, Ruben Rumpelmann, Craig Williams, Michael Leask and others have made it a tournament for Namibia to remember. Two wins in three games of Round One and qualification to the Super 12s have given Namibia one of their high points in cricket.
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They defeated Scotland in the Super 12s but slumped against Afghanistan before providing a good fight to Pakistan. They are unlikely to beat New Zealand, but the experience will help grow as a cricketing nation.
Wiese has headed the Namibian scoring charts, while Williams and Smit have contributed valuable knocks. The bowling attack is seam-heavy, with Rumpelmann leading a pack of four left-handers; Wiese provides the right-handed inswingers. Spin too has been effective with the spells from Leask, Bernard Scholtz and Pikky Ya France.
Namibia may not have the arsenal to upstage New Zealand, but a close encounter would still be a victory for them.