NAMIBIA’s cricket team got off to a great start in their first T20 international against Botswana on Monday after thrashing their opponents by 93 runs.
With Stephen Baard and Craig Williams leading the way, Namibia amassed a total of 193 for four wickets off their 20 overs, and then reduced Botswana to 100 for seven wickets to complete a comprehensive victory.
Botswana won the toss and elected to field first, but Namibia immediately took the initiative after a fine start by Baard and Nico Davin.
They put on 80 runs at nearly 10 an over for the first wicket, although they were also aided by some poor fielding by the visitors, who dropped at least three catches before Davin was finally out, bowled by Dhruv Maisuria for 39.
Namibian captain Gerhard Erasmus (2) and Karl Birkenstock (5) were dismissed cheaply, going for big shots, but Baard continued to attack the bowlers before becoming Maisuria’s second victim, caught in the covers for 60, which came off 46 balls and included three sixes.
Craig Williams maintained Namibia’s onslaught with a great innings as he dominated an unbeaten fifth wicket partnership of 77 runs with Zayn Green.
He went on to score 68 not out off only 31 balls, which included five sixes and five fours, while Green remained unbeaten on 18 as Namibia posted an imposing total of 193 for four wickets.
Maisuria was Botswana’s best bowler, taking three wickets for 23 runs off four overs.
Botswana’s batsmen were never in the hunt as they regularly lost wickets. Zhivago Groenewald dismissed Tharindu Perera for one, while Pikky ya France dismissed Hemal Pragji for four, and they could not recover as they crashed to 60 for six wickets. Valentine Mbazo added a late cameo innings of 27 not out, but by then, the result was never in doubt as Namibia completed a crushing victory.
Despite the apparent mismatch, Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn said it was a good exercise.
“It was a good game for us. We see this as valuable game time, especially leading up to the T20 World Cup qualifiers in October. So, it’s important for us to get out there because we haven’t played a lot over the past three months.
We believe in building a winning habit, and we measure ourselves against our opposition. There are definitely areas where we need to improve,” he noted.
“From a batting point of view, I’m very happy with Craig Williams, who executed his role well, and Stephen Baard at the top order, who got to bat long and deep. Zane Green finished with a nice little cameo, and there will be opportunities for other guys as well during the remainder of the series,” he added.
De Bruyn said with two important tours coming up, competition for places in the national team was tough. Namibia will compete in the ICC World Cup League Division 2 in the United States next month, with the team due to be announced next Monday.
“We have a squad of 19 players, and I believe that any player in that 19 is good enough to be in the final 14 to go to the USA, or the final 15 that will go to Dubai. It’s going to be a tough selection, but on Monday we will announce the USA squad of 14 players, while we will announce the Dubai squad on 10 September.
The Botswana series created the perfect opportunity for players to stake their claims with good performances.
“As selectors, we will cover all our bases, and make sure that it is a well-balanced squad, but certain players have now shown that they want to be in there. Like the youngster, Ben Shikongo, who has really put his hand up, bowling with a bit more pace. He’s got a lot of energy, and is buying into our culture, so there’s an example of someone who has announced himself to the selectors and saying I want to be on those tours. It makes for healthy competition, and it’s a good problem to have,” he observed.
SOURCE: The Namibian Newspaper