After a crushing defeat at the hands of Afghanistan, Scotland, who won all three matches in the first round of the T20 World Cup, will look to return to winning ways against Namibia, who like the opponents have made it to this stage for the very first time.
The Scottish batsmen were bamboozled by the spin duo of Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman and Rashid Khan, who finished with figures of 9 for 29 against them. This comes as a surprise as Scotland batsmen are among of the best players of spin among the teams in the competition.
Before the Afghanistan game, Scotland had scored at a run-rate of 7.6 against the spinners and their average and strike-rate against them read a commendable 33.9 and 26.8 respectively, which is among the best in T20Is this year. However, all three areas of taken a massive hit since the game against the Afghans, which could be put down to a bad day in the office.
After the heavy loss against Afghanistan, Scotland captain Kyle Coetzer vowed to come back stronger in the next game. And if I were Namibia, I would take that warning very seriously.
“We fought hard in the field. It's just a level check to see where our standards are. We'll be better for it in the next game. We have a great bunch of players and belief in the side. Belief among the players is key. It's not like we'll be locked up in separate rooms. We'll come together in the hotel. We have to keep moving forward,” Coetzer had said.
With Namibia boasting of spin options like Bernard Scholtz, Pikkya Ya France and also the leg-spinner Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, the Scotland line-up may not be tested as much as they were against Mujeeb and Rashid, but it’s a test they will be looking to overcome nevertheless.
The Namibians have however, been dependent on their top four batsmen to do the job, and luckily for them, they have deliveries. The likes of David Wiese and Gerhard Erasmus have come to the fore on more than one occasion in the tournament to take Namibia over the line.
Wiese’s experience with both bat and the ball has been a blessing for Namibia, who like Scotland, look to register their first-ever win in the Super 12s.
In his last two matches, Wiese has picked up three wickets and with the bat, he scored an unbeaten 66 against the Netherlands and in the game against Ireland, he smashed 28 not out to take his team to the next round. Erasmus, the leading run-scorer for Namibia in T20Is, scored a crucial 32 and unbeaten 53 in those matches. Safe to say, Namibia’s fate in this tournament, rests in their hands.
Not to forget, left-arm seamer Jan Frylinck, who has been a key figure in Namibia’s rise. He registered the fifth-best figures in T20Is just days before the T20 World Cup and continues to be crucial cog in the Namibia line-up given his ability to read the conditions quickly and deliver accordingly.
Speaking of left-arm seamers, Namibia have three frontline bowlers of this type in their XI, which is more than any other team perhaps have in their entire squad this tournament. Rajasthan Royals (RR) often played a similar combination with Jaydev Unadkat, Chetan Sakariya and Mustafizur Rahman together in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and it made sense especially if you were playing in Abu Dhabi.
Three out of Namibia’s five matches are being played in Abu Dhabi, which has seen 21.12% of the wickets being picked up by left-arm fast bowlers, which is the best after right-arm fast bowlers who have picked up over 50% of the wickets. Hence, the Eagles could continue with this combination at least in Abu Dhabi.
The only choice Namibia have to make is whether to have Stephan Baard back in the XI in place of Michael Van Lingen to add further depth to the batting department, considering Baard would open with Craig Williams dropping to No. 3.
Both Scotland and Namibia will need their top-order, especially the openers to fire, as they have been below par this tournament so far. Among teams that have played at least three matches in the tournament, the Namibian have openers has the worst run-rate, the Scottish team finds itself in the bottom half of the table when it comes to the runs and balls per wicket ratio.
Scotland might also consider strengthening their spin department with Hamza Tahir waiting in the wings, which might relieve some pressure in getting a few overs from Michael Leask, allowing him to focus on his batting.
Bradley Wheal could make way for Tahir, which will leave Scotland with just two frontline pacers in Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif with Richie Berrington also chipping in with his medium-pacers if needed.
Scotland: George Munsey, Kyle Coetzer (c), Matthew Cross (wk), Richie Berrington, Calum MacLeod, Michael Leask, Chris Greaves, Mark Watt, Josh Davey, Safyaan Sharif, Bradley Wheal/Hamza Tahir
Namibia: Zane Green (wk), Craig Williams, Michael van Lingen, Gerhard Erasmus (c), David Wiese, JJ Smit, Jan Frylinck, Pikky Ya France, Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Ruben Trumpelmann, Bernard Scholtz