Namibia 161-7 (Smit 59, Williams 45, Bilal Khan 4-19) defeated Oman 107 (Khawar Ali 41, Aqib Ilyas 18, Scholtz 3-14) by 54 runs

Namibia has secured qualification for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia, defeating Oman by 54 runs in Dubai.

Gerhard Erasmus won the toss and elected to bat, on a Dubai deck that showed life in the earlier fixture between the Netherlands and UAE.

With pace and bounce in the surface, Oman’s bowlers capitalised early. Striking first ball, Bilal Khan removed Stephen Baard, who copped a delivery of nightmares. With bounce off a length and inward movement, Baard was struck on the hand, with the ball ballooning off the glove and into the hands Aamir Kaleem.

JP Kotze strode out at three, and did look to play Bilal Khan later with prodigious swing on offer. The left-hander seized on a ball a fraction shorter to get the ball rolling, manufacturing a pull shot through mid-wicket to open his team’s account.

Fayyaz Butt found swing early at the other end, though was also guilty of dropping too short, as Niko Davin took advantage with a pull shot of his on over mid-wicket for four. Davin edged the next delivery, though benefited from going hard at the delivery, as it sailed over the cordon.

As Fayyaz went for 14 in his first over, it was Bilal’s change of pace and not the movement in the air that undid Kotze at the other end. Rolling his fingers down the ball, Bilal found the top of the number three’s leg stump with a crafty piece of bowling. At 18-2, Namibia found themselves in a spot of bother.

Craig Williams entered at four, and dug out a yorker first up after he was tested by the left-armer. Bilal kept a tight line to tie up Williams, though Mohammad Nadeem relieved the pressure by dropping short to Davin who pulled away for another six in the next over. Williams looked to join Davin in his six-hitting crusade, coming down the track to hit Aamir Kaleem over the mid-wicket fence.

Aamir made amends, albeit in the field during the next over. Nadeem found the edge of the flurrying Davin, with Aamir diving forward at third-man to grab Oman’s third wicket. Oman had restricted their opponents to 36-3 at the end of the Power Play, and had their tails up.

Oman had Namibia at 36-3 before the African side fought back. (ICC)

Erasmus joined Williams in the middle, though Oman gave little away with ball in hand. Outside a Khawar Ali drag-down that was dispatched into the seats in the 9th over, Erasmus was given little to work with and fell four balls later. Attempting to cut, he top-edged similarly to Davin, finding Naseem Khushi on the third man boundary. Naseem completed the catch by tip-toeing by the boundary rope to stay in the field of play.

Dot balls continued to stifle the Namibians, who were travelling at under a run a ball at the halfway mark. Zane Green failed to connect on multiple back foot shots square of the wicket, and rode his luck when he did manage to find the middle of his bat. Slashing a Fayyaz Butt delivery in the 12th over, Green eluded the diving backward point fielder for a vital four.

The Namibians have hit the most sixes at the tournament and they continued to swing away to move the scoreboard along. Williams looked to muscle everything, sweating on anything he could put into the seats between long-on and square leg. Green fell to Aaqib Ilyas attempting to cut again, though it brought JJ Smit to the middle who immediately looked more comfortable. Finding a gap first ball to get off the mark, Smit lifted his team into the ascendancy with a mix of touch and power.

Smit’s placement and finesse was shown in the 15th over to dig out a full Bilal Khan delivery for four through point, with his power shown through two cover drives, putting two Aamir Kaleem deliveries well into the stands. Smit raced to 50 in 20 balls, with just two dot balls in his innings up to that point.

Smit brought up his fifty in just 20 balls. (ICC)

Namibia’s pace accelerated with Smit, as the team took just 18 balls to move from 100 to 150. Bilal Khan claimed two scalps to stop the bleeding, with Williams caught by Khawar Ali and Smit slicing out to Khurram Nawaz.

Oman had two new batsmen to bowl to for the 20th over, though Christi Viljoen managed to continue the flow, albeit with an outside edge wide of the ‘keeper. He and Jan Frylinck combined to score nine off the last over, to lift Namibia to 161-7.

It was Frylinck who got the ball rolling in the field, generating the same swing Bilal Khan managed early on. Jatinder Singh fell facing his first ball, flicking to Niko Davin on the backward square leg boundary, and perhaps feeling the pressure of the chase in the opening moments.

Khawar Ali by comparison felt no such pressure early, thumping Christi Viljoen for three consecutive boundaries in the second over. Racing to 39 off 19 balls at the end of the Power Play, Oman had fought their way back into the game at 57-1, bringing the required run rate down to under eight an over.

Erasmus turned to spin with the fielding restrictions lifted, and his move was rewarded instantly. Bernard Scholtz’s trusty left-arm orthodox claimed Aaqib Ilyas LBW on the sweep, with Erasmus bringing himself on to remove opposition captain Zeeshan Maqsood in the next over. Throwing one up to the left-hander, Maqsood was lazy in his straight drive, finding Davin in the deep for what was a soft dismissal.

The double scalp put pressure on Khawar, who tumbled in Scholtz’s second over. Charging down the track, Scholtz beat his man in the flight and ‘keeper Zane Green had little to do to complete the stumping.

At 64-4, Oman never found a way back into the game. Suraj Kumar, Aamir Kaleem and Sandeep Goud fell in consecutive overs, with Mohammad Nadeem the fourth player to fall in a 14-4 collapse. Rather fittingly, it was the combination of Smit and Williams that finished the job for Namibia with the ball. Williams claimed Nadeem for a duck, with Khurram Nawaz and Fayyaz Butt dismissed by Smit, as Oman fell to 107.

Securing their passage to the T20 World Cup with the victory, Namibia will take on PNG in the semi-finals after their celebrations, while Oman will need to beat Hong Kong in a playoff for World Cup Qualification.

A scorecard of the match can be found here.

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