Players of Ireland during a training session. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Senior Sports Reporter
Ireland and Namibia face off in a knockout clash of the T20 World Cup with a Super 12 berth at stake in Sharjah on Friday. The match will mark the exit for the loser while winners will punch a ticket for the Super 12, which gets under way on Oct.23.
With Sri Lanka already through to the Super 12 and Netherland out of contention, the winner of Ireland and Namibia will get a chance to rub their shoulder with the big bulls in the next round.
Ireland will look to bounce back from their loss against Lanka and take their campaign as deep as possible at the showpiece event.
Ireland have put up an underwhelming performance so far and failed to live up their reputation and the expectation of the fans.
Despite not playing any game in the main draw of a World Cup since 2012, Ireland were clear favourites along with Lanka from the group to advance to the next stage.
Though their loss against Lanka was never an upset and the result was very much as expected, yet they could have sprung a surprise by beating former world champions and avoided the jitters of playing in a do-or-die clash.
They spurned a golden chance after pushing Lanka on the back foot with a stellar display of the bowling in the power play.
Having reduced Lanka to 8-3, Ireland lost the momentum and failed to keep the pressure on as the Islanders used their experience and held their nerve to post a fighting total.
Pathum Nissanka and Wanindu Hasaranga shared a 123-run partnership to anchor the innings before Dasun Shanaka played a 11-ball 21 cameo to propel the score to 171/7.
Ireland are a seasoned campaigners at the international circuit, having got the Full Member status long back, but they have not played too much international cricket in the past two years.
The lack of practice in the international matches, especially with the big teams, is hurting their chances and have put them in perils of losing out on a Super 12 berth.
Ireland will bank on the experienced duo of Paul Sterling and Kevin O’ Brien, who share a combined totalof more than 450 international appearances between them, T20Is and ODIs put together.
Sterling, who made his debut as teenager, is yet to live up to his reputation and due to play a big inning after two insignificant scores of 30 and 4.
O’ Brien has failed to deliver with the scores of 5 and 9 against Sri Lanka and Netherlands respectively. They are the mainstay of Irish batting line-up.
Both the players will have to click when it matters the most if Ireland want to go beyond the first round of the tournament.
O’ Brien is already 37 and probably playing the last World Cup for his country and it might be his last chance to make an impact by taking them through to the next round.
Ireland will also pin hopes on the first match hero Curtis Campher, who got into the record by joining the rare club of the bowlers, who have taken four wickets in four balls.
He rocked Netherlands and ripped through their middle order to boost Irish hopes at the cricketing spectacle.
Namibia, who returned to the World Cup after a long gap of 18 years, will look for another upset victory after having stunned Netherlands in their opening match.
Namibia played the 50-over World Cup in 2003, four years before the inaugural edition of the 20-over showpiece event in South Africa.
They have already underlined their presence and thrown down the gauntlet to their opponents with a historic upset of Netherlands.
Having chased successfully 166 against Netherlands, they will once again look upon their batsmen to deliver. The openers Max O’ Dowd and Stephan Myburgh set the tone for the chase with an opening stand of 45 runs.
If they can give a good start again, Namibia can fancy their chances of going into the next round by beating Ireland. However, their bowling is the main concern that they have to address before it is too late.
In the other match of the day, an ecstatic Sri Lanka will look to fine tune their preparations for the Super 12 against a hapless Netherlands.
Lanka will look to take the winning momentum into the next round by notching up their third straight victory. They may try their bench strength also. But disturbing a winning combination might not be a viable option for them just before the real game begins in the UAE.
Glenn Phillips and Jimmy Neesham plundered 67 runs off the last four overs as New Zealand made 163-4 after being put into bat. In reply, Namibia were well set at 47-0 in the eighth over before they faded to 111-7.
After playing his last knock in international cricket, Asghar Afghan on Sunday became emotional and said that it's tough for him to hang his boots but he now wants to give chance to youngsters in the ongoing Men's T20 World Cup.
Rizwan finished with a slow-to-fast 50-ball 79 not out while Babar notched his 23rd T20 fifty with a 49-ball 70 to lift Pakistan — who won the toss and batted — to 189-2 in their 20 overs.
Though Babar scored a half-century and Pakistan won the low-scoring warm-up game against the West Indies on Monday, the captain consumed 41 deliveries for his 50, while Rizwan struck his 13 off 17 balls and didn't score a single boundary.
The closing ceremony was graced by former Indian cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin, as Chief Guest, Dr M Rafiuddin, Convener, BITS Pilani Sports Festival, Prof. Srinivasan Madapusi, Director BPDC, Dr Priti Bajpai, Dean, Student Welfare, and students from various colleges and Media.
The only Thoroughbred race on the card, it was contested by a field of 15 but very few ever managed to land a blow with Bernardo Pinheiro and Rebel Streak setting a decent gallop until Buckell, having pretty much stalked the lead throughout, committed for home entering the short straight.
An unbroken opening century stand by Abid Ali and debutant Abdullah Shafique gave Pakistan a solid platform after bowling out Bangladesh for 330 on day two of the first Test in Chittagong on Saturday.