Windhoek - Namibia national cricket team has qualified for their first ever International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup after an impressive 54-run win over Oman in their qualifying play-off.
The T20 World Cup is not to be confused with the proper cricket World Cup, where Namibia’s only participation was in 2003.
It’s the first time that the country has qualified for the ICC T20 World Cup.
They become the fourth team from the ICC Men's T20 World Cup qualifiers in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to confirm their place in the 2020 event, after group A and B toppers Papua New Guinea and Ireland, and first semi-final play-off winners Netherlands.
The appearance will be Namibia's first at a senior World Cup since they featured in the 50-over event in 2003, and an emotional team marked their success with ecstatic celebrations on Tuesday, 29 October, after the second match of the day at the Dubai International Stadium.
In a game where fortunes swung widely, Namibia found themselves on the back foot at various points in both innings. First, when they were 69/5 after choosing to bat and then when Oman were 57/1 in the powerplay with Khawar Ali taking apart their pace attack.
They overcame the first hurdle, thanks to an 83-run sixth-wicket stand between Craig Williams and JJ Smit to post a competitive 161/7, and the second with the introduction of spin, for which Oman had little answer.
Williams put the break on the scoring with his medium-pace, before Bernard Scholtz got the breakthrough with his left-arm spin and Gerhard Erasmus (3/19) struck with his leg-breaks. Scholtz's 3/14 included the big wicket of Khawar, stumped when charging down the track.
Apart from Khawar, who smashed two sixes and five fours in his 45 off 25 balls, no other Oman batsman could cross 20, with only two others getting to double figures.
Oman began promisingly, with Bilal Khan setting the tone. He surprised Stephen Baard with movement in the first ball of the innings, before returning to have JP Kotze bowled.Two excellent bits of fielding at the boundary then established Oman's position.
Even as Niko Davin and the in-form Gerhard Erasmus showed off the big-hitting Namibia have developed a reputation for this tournament, Aamir Kaleem (diving forward) and Muhammad Naseem (running to his left) ended their knocks before they could kick on.
Williams (45 off 41, three sixes) and Smit (59 off 25, five sixes) did well to press forward with attack even from the disadvantaged position of 69/5. Smith's half-century off 20 balls, the fastest of the tournament, was a display of brutal hitting, but the quick running between the wicket from the duo was as crucial in shifting the pressure on Oman.
Ultimately, Namibia proved to be better under pressure, and apart from the qualification position, have a chance to extend their run of five undefeated games in the semi-final against PNG on Friday. – Additional reporting by icc-cricket.com