Namibia head coach Pierre de Bruyn feels his team has exceeded everyone’s expectations in the ongoing 2021 T20 World Cup and wants to finish this tournament on a high. They beat Netherlands and Ireland to make it through to the Super 12s stage and even got the better of Scotland in their first game of the second round. However, they have lost their last three encounters and will now be up against India, who are also out of the semifinal race.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us. We came here with expectations but I think we exceeded that and with that the pressure mounted and these players have really announced themselves. We thought it was a cricket Namibia story for our country but it's become a global story where we've inspired not just our kids back home but globally we have won a lot of hearts," said de Bruyn.
Namibia were bowled out against Sri Lanka in their first match of the showpiece event but since then have batted out the entire 20 overs in each game. They have been phenomenal with the new ball but have struggled badly in the death overs. Namibia have operated at an economy of just six in the powerplay but have leaked runs at 10.9 in the last five overs, which is one of the biggest reasons why they couldn’t compete with Pakistan and New Zealand.
"We have played 40-overs cricket in this group, we have not been blown away by any team in 10 overs or 12 overs or anything like that. We've been willing to stretch the game and give ourselves a good chance against these top oppositions. Tomorrow's a classic game where you go in and you need to hold your own, you need to take brutal accountability for what you're going to bring to the team. It's the last little push. It's been a long tour and it's been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least.
"Facing the best in the world can be overwhelming and it's all about staying composed and this team, especially with the ball, has shown that they are willing to hold on and compete like we showed in the game against New Zealand - they were 94 for 4 after 16 overs - so the learnings for us is that we're going to treasure that, we're going to hold on hard to that because these lessons - good or bad - are only going to make you a better team and they're to make you a better player."
De Bruyn said his team is looking forward to going face to face against Virat Kohli and Co. and wants his players to learn from their past mistakes. “As players, you always look to plan ahead of a game like that. We know upfront with the bat how they play. If you're not going to execute your plans or execute your skills you know they are going to punish you. That's a guarantee. We want to finish the campaign on a high. It's been 45 days in the bubble. There are no excuses. Tomorrow's a platform for any player to face the best in the world.
"We've got to execute our plans at the death in a more brave way. We've got plans, we've got best plans. We've got skills. To hit a yorker we've trained for two years. I think the bowlers just need to go back tomorrow to that area. It's an area where you're going to be under the pump. When the batters come at you, they're not going to let go. I think tomorrow a big goal is to make sure in the death we execute our plans and skills with confidence."
De Bruyn also heaped heavy praise on his fast bowlers. The likes of Jan Nicolaas Frylinck, Ruben Trumpelmann, David Wiese and JJ Smit have all been impressive, with the former three having an economy of less than 7.6. “Ruben has really worked hard from a physical point of view. He's definitely got some more ball speed. We're going to work on that, we're busy working on that physically. And I feel that against an Indian team - Rohit Sharma, those type of batters, obviously there's going to be nerves. But don't change what's been working for you.
"Frylinck was always in the background doing the grubby work. He relies on skill. He's our little street fighter. He will come and clean up if there's been a big over. He backs himself in the death. Our bowling attack with the experience of David Wiese, and with the new ball you can get it to swing, against India the first two-three overs are going to be critical for us. We've shown that against Pakistan. We had Pakistan in the powerplay at 29 for no loss. We are capable of using that new ball with what we have in our bowling attack."
Lastly, de Bruyn thanked all the top nations for making Namibia feel like they belong at this level. "On and off the field we respect the opposition and we respect the game. I think that's why the opposition respects us. They have all reached out not just on the field but at the hotels. The Proteas have been amazing support for us. We shared the same hotel for a long period of time.
"We've got 16-17 players in our national team we've picked from. And what these guys have put in and what they have done in this World Cup for me is incredible but we also want to show the cricket world that as a small nation, an associate country we also belong. That's what New Zealand showed us the other night and the Pakistan team…it makes you feel that you belong and you are allowed to compete with these teams. I want to thank these teams for reaching out to associate teams. They just need that little bit of comfort and feeling wanted. We certainly felt that."