Namibia shock Sri Lanka in World Cup opener; Netherlands sneak past UAE


Namibia, ranked 14th in the world, shocked Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka to win by 55 runs as the Men’s T20 World Cup started in spectacular fashion.

Namibia were 35-3 and 93-6, but Jan Frylinck and JJ Smit brilliantly hit 70 off 37 balls to drag them to 163-7.

Sri Lanka, who are eighth in the world, were all out for 108, to give Namibia just their second win over a Test side.

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In the later game, the Netherlands chased 112 to beat the United Arab Emirates off the penultimate ball.

Namibia will now face the Netherlands on Tuesday (05:00 BST) and Sri Lanka will play the United Arab Emirates (09:00) in the next Group A games.

Scotland and Ireland’s campaigns will start on Monday, when they face the West Indies and Zimbabwe respectively in Group B.

The top two sides from each group will qualify for the Super 12s, which start on 22 October. The winner of Group A and runner-up from Group B will face England.

Sri Lanka flatter to deceive but Namibia impress

Sri Lanka, who are led by former England head coach Chris Silverwood, came into the tournament in Australia as some people’s outside bet for the title because of their impressive Asia Cup victory just five weeks ago.

However, the conditions are very different to those they faced in the UAE, and after winning the toss and making a good start with the ball, cracks started to appear.

Their fielding was tidy enough, but their bowling, both line and length, became ragged as the Namibia innings progressed and they were put under pressure by Frylinck (44 off 28 balls)and Smit (31 not out off 16), who both understood the need to hit straighter much better than their team-mates.

They hit six fours and two sixes between them, but before that it had been a tepid batting display from Namibia, with little power or guile to find the boundary.

The associate nation, whose only other win over a Test-playing nation came against Ireland in the 2021 T20 World Cup, were superb with the ball from the get-go, though, and their catching and ground fielding were faultless throughout.

Nicol Loftie-Eaton took a brilliant catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Wanindu Hasaranga, before Michael van Lingen was quick off the mark to run out Pramod Madushan.

Left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz claimed 2-18, pace bowler Ben Shikongo – who had an lbw review for a hat-trick turned down – took 2-22, and Frylinck was 2-26.

Man of the match Frylinck said he was “speechless” at the result and they had “achieved above what we thought we could”, while Smit said “for the little boys and girls at home, this will mean the world”.

Sri Lanka captain Dasun Shanaka said: “The execution was not there when it came to the bowling – that has been a concern for us. Once we lost three wickets in the powerplay, the game was lost.”

The result means Sri Lanka will realistically need to win both of their remaining group games – potentially by large margins because of the effect this result will have on their net run-rate – to stand a chance of qualifying for the Super 12s.

Netherlands players celebrate victory (Photo Getty Images)

Netherlands sneak past UAE

The later game also represented an upset as the Netherlands, who are ranked 18th in the world, got the better of 13th-ranked UAE.

It was a tame batting display from UAE, who struggled with the two-paced nature of the pitch, with Muhammad Waseem top-scoring with 41 off 47 balls in their 111-8.

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Bas de Leede bowled beautifully, taking three wickets in the 19th over to finish with 3-19, while Fredrick Klaassen claimed 2-13.

The Netherlands got off to a rapid start, racing to 37-1 after four overs, but they lost regular wickets throughout.

Colin Ackermann fell to 16-year-old Aayan Khan – the youngest player to play in a Men’s T20 World Cup – but even at 71-4 they were in control of the chase.

But the game swung the other way in the 13th over as Junaid Siddique removed Tom Cooper and Roelof van der Merwe to put UAE in control.

However, captain CP Rizwan dropped Tim Pringle in the covers in a costly error, as he went on to share 27 with captain Scott Edwards.

Pringle fell in the penultimate over but Edwards, who finished unbeaten on 16, got his side over the line with Logan van Beek, who added a run-a-ball four.

Edwards said: “It was always a little nervy to the end, but it was just relief to get over the line.”

Rizwan added: “It is completely heartbreaking. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to chase here, we told the boys that it was never over until the last ball and we almost pulled it off.” (BBC Sport)

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