Scotland’s unbeaten run at this year’s World Cup came to a crashing halt against Afghanistan on Monday. Several dubious records were bagged on the way as they lost nine wickets to Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Rashid Khan, a signal that quality spin is an Achilles heel for this team.
Their first shot at leaving that performance firmly in the past will come on Wednesday against Namibia, the only other Associate team remaining in the World Cup. With three teams from the subcontinent in their group, and New Zealand to boot, both Scotland and Namibia will have earmarked this fixture as the place to pick up two sure points.
For Namibia, it is the first match of this stage, and a chance to get started with a win before any thoughts of upsetting the bigger teams later on. For Scotland, it’s a little more urgent than that. They were the most dominant side in the first round and starting with losses to the two teams they would consider closest to them in stature will sour what has already been a historic campaign.
The teams have already played each other twice this month before the World Cup began, and Scotland lost both those games. They’ll be looking to put a stop to that.
Namibia WWLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Gerhard Erasmus has already sealed his status as a Namibia great, as the captain who has led them to what will now be back-to-back T20 World Cups. His fifty against Ireland brought them into this stage of the tournament, and was described by Player-of-the-Match David Wiese as the more important of the two knocks that helped seal qualification for them. He’s been out cheaply against Scotland the last two times they’ve met, and will be looking to set the straight when it matters the most. Erasmus is Namibia’s top-scorer in this format and will be expected to set the tone on Wednesday
George Munsey has been looking like a man in form without yet making a big score. At the top of the order, Munsey has shown shades of his destructive best, and will be looking to go deeper in the innings as Scotland look to put behind their batting failure from earlier in the week. Munsey bats in what is the best phase in these conditions and Namibia will consider him one of the main threats.
Neither side is likely to change their XIs.
Namibia: (possible) 1 Zane Green (wk), 2 Craig Williams, 3 Gerhard Erasmus (capt), 4 David Wiese, 5 JJ Smit, 6 Jan Frylinck, 7 Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, 8 Pikky Ya France/Stephen Baard, 9 Ruben Trumpelmann, 10 Michael van Lingen, 11 Bernard Scholtz
Scotland: (possible) 1 Kyle Coetzer (capt), 2 George Munsey, 3 Calum MacLeod, 4 Richie Berrington, 5 Matthew Cross (wk), 6 Michael Leask, 7 Chris Greaves, 8 Mark Watt, 9 Josh Davey, 10 Safyaan Sharif, 11 Brad Wheal
Pitch and conditions
The forecast has Abu Dhabi’s temperature hovering about 30 degree celsius during the start of this evening fixture, among the coolest evenings in the tournament so far. It’s a pitch that’s shown assistance for fast bowling as well recently, but evening fixtures have generally taken the pitch out of the equation at this venue, with dew being a much bigger factor. Four of the last five wins have been for the team batting second. It is, however, among the friendlier venues for bowlers in this format due to the long boundaries.
Stats and trivia
These teams have played each other in Abu Dhabi previously, but that was in the World Cup qualifiers back in 2012. Scotland lost that game as well
Safyaan Sharif is set to play his 50th game for Scotland. He is their top wicket-taker in T20Is with 57, 30 of which have come in the UAE in 22 innings
With seven sixes, Wiese is currently tied at the top with Evin Lewis for most sixes in the tournament
“Financially we weren’t where we wanted to be, but as a team we weren’t really performing. And to think of tournaments like qualifying tournaments, we tend to just fall away at the end. We knew we really had to turn around, and it’s really been an effort to do that. It had to be some great role play within Cricket Namibia – from the coaching staff to the board members to the administration itself – that have followed to buy into one vision and go some way. And now we sort of I guess at the peak and reaping those rewards which is great. And hopefully continue going upwards.”
Gerhard Erasmus reflects on Namibia’s journey before a big day
“Namibia are a very good team. I actually said before the Cup started that I expected them to go through. I’m kind of pleased that they did. They’ve got everything covered – they’ve got experience, they’ve got a really good fielding unit and very tidy bowling. So we know enough about them, we’ve played against them three or four times in the last, maybe three years now. There’s no real surprises but at the same time we do expect to go out there and win.”
Scotland’s Matthew Cross on their equation with Namibia