David Wiese played a scintillating knock of 66 not out off 40 balls as Namibia beat Netherlands by six wickets in the Group A match at the Shiekh Zayad Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Set a target of 165, Namibia recovered from an early hiccup to register the second-highest chase in T20Is by an associate nation.
Netherlands, having lost to Ireland in the opening match by seven wickets, needed a good result to keep their Super 12s chances alive. Openers Max O’Dowd and Stephan Myburgh started off in fine fashion adding 42 in 5.3 overs. The pair punished everything that was on the good length or full. Myburgh looked to be playing the anchor role while O’Dowd, fresh off a valiant 51 against Ireland, was the aggressor. However, Namibia quickly caught on to the nature of the pitch and used the short ball to a great effect.
Jan Fylinck foxed Myburgh in the sixth over with a slower bouncer having the left-hander caught at point. Two overs later, the experience head of David Wiese bounced Roelof van der Merwe out for six runs to pull things back for Namibia. However, they were unable to contain O’Dowd who went about his business, non-nonchalantly finding boundaries and using his feet to hack into the slow nature of the pitch. O’Dowd, Netherlands’ only T20I centurion, kept twitching inside his crease to create space and area for his cleanly executed big shots. The right-hander reached his fifty in 42 balls.
However, it was far from a fluent innings under the scorching Abu Dhabi sun. Long boundaries on the leg-side meant O’Dowd had to often sprint back and forth between the wickets and the searing heat slowly caught up to him. The 27-year old was saved twice by missed throws and a fumbled catch inside the circle. Dutch vice-captain Colin Ackermann eased the pressure off his partner with a boundary and a six, but O’Dowd’s cramps were making things difficult. With a 160+ plus score beckoning, Ackermann holed out to Gerhard Erasmus off Frylinck’s 18th over. A visibly uncomfortable O’Dowd walked back in the final over for a 56-ball 70 (6x4, 1x6) after short of a second run. Thanks to the urgency shown by Scott Edwards (21 off 11), Netherlands finished 164/4 in 20 overs.
Defending a good total on a dry surface, the Dutch thought they had the game in the bag after dismissing Namibia’s top three for 52 in 8.2 overs. However, the arrival of Wiese and skipper Erasmus turned the tables on the Dutch. Weise, using his long levers, was middling the ball exquisitely as he began with a six off Van der Merwe and then smacked two sixes and a boundary off Ackermann’s 12th over. Erasmus was happy to play the second fiddle while sending the ball beyond the ropes at every possible opportunity.
The pair kept on egging each other, converting ones into twos and reached 50 partnership in just 25 balls. Pieter Seelaar, desparate for a wicket, brought in Bas de Leede and bowled an over himself but Wiese and Erasmus were unaffected. Wiese reached his fifty in 29 balls as the required run rate dropped sharply. Timm van der Gugten, finally brought an end to the 93-run stand off 41 balls, when got Erasmus to nick one off to the keeper.
With 19 required off 18 balls, Fred Klassen bowled a sensational over that yielded just four runs to put pressure back on the Namibians. Wiese, a campaigner of 269 T20 matches across the world, used all his experience to calm the nerves. The former South African international took a single and then harried his partner Jonathan Smit for a couple on the off-side. After stopping a moment to catch his breath, the Wiese smacked two back-to-back boundaries to bring up the country’s first-ever World Cup win with six balls to spare.