After restricting Free State to 222 for six wickets off their 50 overs, Namibia reached 224 for seven wickets with five balls to spare.
Baard led the way with a fine century, scoring 112 off 148 balls, which included two sixes and four fours.Namibia got an early breakthrough in Free State’s innings when JJ Smit dismissed Paballo Mogoera for six, but the rest of their top order all chipped in with valuable contributions. Karabo Mogotsi scored 38, Andries Gous 44, Pike van Biljon 25, Patrick Botha 22, Romano Terblanche 27 and Dilivio Ridgaard 39 not out as Free State reached 222 for six wickets off their 50 overs.
For Namibia, Jan Frylinck took two wickets for 36 runs off eight overs, and Craig Williams 2/44 off 10 overs. In Namibia’s innings, Free State pace bowler Corne Dry made an early breakthrough when he dismissed Lohan Louwrens (18) and Karl Birkenstock (0) within four balls to peg Namibia back at 24 for two wickets.
Michau du Preez, however, joined Baard to put Namibia back on track with a 66-run partnership for the third wicket before Du Preez was dismissed for 32. Craig Williams and captain Sarel Burger, who were both playing in their last match for Namibia, contributed 23 and 10 runs respectively, but they all played a supporting role to Baard, who put Namibia in charge with a perfectly paced innings. By the time he was out for 112, Namibia were only six runs away from victory with eight balls remaining, and JJ Smit went on to score the winning runs with a four off the final over.
Dry was Free State’s best bowler, taking three wickets for 36 runs off 10 overs.
After the match, Burger said it was a great way to end his career. “It’s been a long run, I think 16 years, but it couldn’t have ended in a better way. I’m really proud of the guys, with what we’ve achieved over the past two years and how we have turned things around. I’m really pleased with the guys today, and especially the way Stevie batted with a great century, so it’s a great way to end a career like that,” he said.
“It’s been a great privilege to have represented my country, but there’s a new chapter opening up. I think there’s a new path going forward for the youngsters, and I’m very happy with the way they’ve come through the system. I’ll miss the game, but it’s time to move on and I’m glad I could have ended it like I did today,” he said. Williams concurred, saying it was a nice way to end his career off.
“It’s a nice way to end my career off with a good win against a very strong Free State team so I’m very happy,” he said. “It makes it easier to leave now, considering how much talent we have amongst our youngsters and the size of our squad which is coming through now, so I think I am leaving the game with a clear mind, knowing that the guys will do well and take us forward,” he said.