Erasmus' resilient fifty hauls Namibia to thrilling win

Cricket


Gerhard Erasmus‘ resilient half-century resurrected a faltering Namibia chase, lifting them from 65 for 7 to a thrilling two-wicket win in their pursuit of 166 against Oman at the Wanderers Sports Club.

Oman seemed well on course to victory as Bilal Khan cut through Namibia’s batting order with his maiden List A five-for. But Erasmus and JJ Smit survived the left-armer’s spell of swing bowling, and constructed a 92-run eighth-wicket stand to pump life back into Namibia’s hopes of promotion into the World Cup Qualifier.

Oman had been under pressure when they batted as well, falling to 10 for 3 in the fifth over after being sent in in seam-friendly conditions. As he did a day earlier, when Namibia bowled out Kenya for 83, captain Sarel Burger had a minimum of two slips in place for nearly the entire innings.

Jatinder Singh ground out a top-score of 29 off 71 balls – one of five 20-plus scores in the innings – to settle Oman’s early nerves, before a late flurry from the lower order hauled them to a modest total.

Oman’s fielding was sloppy early on – and it cost them later as well – as several chances went down, allowing Namibia to reach 44 for 1. Lohan Louwrens had been driving Namibia’s chase early, but should have been out for 23 when he was spilled over the third man rope off Bilal for six. Bilal persisted with a short-ball plan until Louwrens was cramped for room and fended a catch behind to end the 12th over. Bilal struck for the second time in the 14th, beating JP Kotze for pace to send his off stump cartwheeling back.

Erasmus entered after Nico Davin fell lbw to offspinner Jay Odedra in the 15th over, with the score on 61 for 4, but could only watch helplessly from the non-striker’s end as Bilal took three more wickets in the space of five balls in the 16th over. Craig Williams flashed an edge through to wicketkeeper-captain Sultan Ahmed, Jan Frylinck was beaten for pace to be trapped leg before, and Sarel Burger edged a drive low to first slip.

With storm clouds hovering overhead, Namibia were well behind on Duckworth-Lewis, but Erasmus and Smit calmly blocked out the rest of Bilal’s initial eight-over spell. The pitch slowed down as the innings wore on, offering little to Oman’s spinners as Erasmus resurrected the chase with ones and twos. As the target whittled down to less than 50 in the 39th over, Sultan tossed the ball to Aqib Ilyas for his part-time legspin, but Erasmus swept him for four as the 300 fans in attendance sensed a home victory.

A crunching pull from Erasmus off Fayyaz Butt in the 47th over brought up his fifty off 95 balls, and brought the equation down to 12 off 21 balls. Kaleemullah conceded just two in the 48th over, before Smit finally buckled in the 49th, pulling Butt to mid-on and leaving Erasmus to get nine off 10 balls with the tail.

Three singles put Erasmus on strike with six to get off the final over. Pacer Mohammad Nadeem was tasked with defending it, bowling with the wind at his back. Erasmus then premeditated a scoop to clear fine leg inside the circle, but he didn’t get the desired elevation. The fielder reached up for the chance, but the ball burst through his hands, and had enough momentum to go for four. Another single to fine leg leveled the scores, before No. 10 Bernard Scholtz slapped a single through cover for the winning run.

Sompal Kami‘s 4 for 30 helped decimate UAE for 114 as Nepal scraped to a four-wicket win in a weather-affected match at United Cricket Field. Following a two-and-a-half-hour delayed start due to a wet outfield from overnight rain, Nepal won a crucial toss with play reduced to 34 overs a side and sent UAE in on a pitch that has heavily favored early seam movement throughout the tournament.

Sunday was no different as UAE were behind the eight-ball throughout the match following Sompal’s opening spell. The short but whippy fast bowler struck with the third ball of the match, bowling Ashfaq Ahmed for a golden duck. Two more strikes by Sompal and Karan KC had UAE 25 for 3 in the eighth over before teenage legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane and captain Paras Khadka tore through the middle order to take 3 for 30 and 2 for 20 respectively. Sompal then returned to finish off the tail as UAE were bowled out in 31 overs.

Nepal, who had struggled to chase Namibia’s 138 on day one before creeping over the line by one wicket, needed a half-century from Khadka after another top-order collapse saw them slip to 20 for 3 in the seventh over. Khadka counterattacked with five sixes in his 51 off 48 balls. Sompal then helped out with the bat too, smashing a six off his third ball before ending the match with a three to finish unbeaten on 10 off five balls.

Opening batsman Ruvindu Gunasekera overcame a thumb injury to produce a gritty 83 off 99 balls and set up Canada‘s third straight win of Division Two with a 59-run victory over Kenya at Affies Park.

Canada had been coasting early at 58 for 1 after being sent in with Gunasekera leading the way on 38 off 28 balls when he received a blow to the left thumb from medium-pacer Nelson Odhiambo that caused his fingernail to nearly come off. After leaving the field for treatment, he returned at 90 for 3 in the 23rd over and proceeded to anchor the rest of the innings, lasting until the third ball of the 49th over before he was eighth out to a rare hit-wicket dismissal trying to swat Nehemiah Odhiambo.

Gunasekera’s innings ensured Canada had plenty to defend against a brittle Kenya batting line-up, who crossed 100 for the first time in three attempts at Division Two but still fell well short of the target. Captain Rakep Patel kept hope alive for a comeback with his 32 off 76 balls, but he was run out attempting to steal a single to short third man off Nikhil Dutta’s offspin; he couldn’t beat Navneet Dhaliwal‘s relay to Hamza Tariq behind the stumps, and Kenya were 123 for 8. Dhaliwal also took 3 for 15 in eight overs of part-time medium pace to hasten victory.



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