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Match Preview – Namibia vs New Zealand, ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021/22, 36th Match, Group 2

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The heat is on in the Group 2 permutations, and New Zealand – for all that their destiny remains firmly in their own hands – know that an apparently comfortable route to the semi-finals could yet get a touch dicey if they drop their guard against two opponents who have scotched preconceptions to prove themselves the best of the rest.

On paper, a final trio of group games comprising Scotland, Namibia and Afghanistan couldn’t really be more straightforward at this level. In reality, however, the intensity of both the itinerary (three day-games for New Zealand in five days, in three different cities) and the blazing heat of the afternoon desert sun poses an intensely awkward challenge – particularly given the stirrings elsewhere in race for second place, with India’s crunching victory over Afghanistan on Wednesday reawakening a challenge that looked to be dead on arrival.
So, how do New Zealand pace themselves as they enter a match that, with all due respect to a magnificently combative Namibia outfit, they really are not expected to lose? They were given a fright by Scotland in Dubai on Wednesday, not least by Mark Watt’s grafting fingerspin, and while Michael Leask’s devil-may-care hitting came too late to truly challenge an upset, it did limit the margin of defeat to a slender 16 runs – not the net run rate boost that Kane Williamson’s men might have been envisaging to guard against accidents in the final analysis.

Moreover, speaking in the wake of his Player-of-the-Match-winning 93, Martin Guptill conceded he had been pretty “cooked” by the conditions, as he missed some of New Zealand’s fielding stint with cramp. He’ll have to replenish his fluids fast, as more of the same sweltering awaits in Sharjah on Friday, and again against Afghanistan on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, by which stage India will – in all probability – have beaten Scotland to leave themselves primed to strike in the event of a slip-up. By contrast, Afghanistan – ever dangerous in spite of some heavy losses – will have rested up for three days in their Abu Dhabi base before that critical clash.

It could, of course, be entirely academic. New Zealand could simply stretch their legs from hereon in, much as they did in last week’s crushing win over the pre-tournament favourites India, in which the established world-beating credentials of Trent Boult and Williamson dovetailed superbly with their less-heralded matchwinners, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Daryl Mitchell, to deliver a thumping eight-wicket win with 33 balls to spare.
And yet Namibia, lest we forget, were briefly the Group 2 leaders after a fine victory over Scotland in Abu Dhabi. They also beat Ireland and the Netherlands in the first round, and earned the respect of Pakistan’s high-flyers in a gutsy 45-run loss earlier this week. With the experienced all-round knowhow of David Wiese anchoring their challenge with bat and ball, they’ve found a succession of star turns in a variety of key roles, not least the aggressive left-arm pace of Ruben Trumpelmann, whose consistent menace against all opponents has propelled him firmly onto the world stage.

Anticipating an upset might stretching a point. But given that Group 1 had been earmarked as the supposed “group of death”, due to the presence therein of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, compared to the apparent makeweights on the other side of the draw, Namibia’s poise, tenacity and unfettered talent has been a joy to watch. They’ll be in it to win it on Friday. Why not? They’ve waited the best part of two decades for their second go on the global stage, and these are the times of their lives.

Form guide

New Zealand WWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Namibia LLWWW

In the spotlight

With his imposing frame and propensity for raw power, Martin Guptill is a crucial cog in New Zealand’s T20I line-up, and one who came good at a vital moment to guard against any accidents versus Scotland. His 93 from 56 balls was his first half-century in the format since March, but if he is to build on that innings, he may need to overcome one major weakness in his record. His record against left-arm pace bowlers pales compared to all other forms of bowling – with an average of 13.8 in 16 innings, and a strike rate of 78. Trumpelmann, JJ Smit and Jan Frylinck may be queuing up to keep the pressure on.
Batting in the powerplay has proven tricky for Namibia in this tournament, with only one opening stand exceeding either 30 runs or a run-a-ball in six attempts, including four different pairings at the top of the order. Craig Williams had a go in three of those outings, without any great success, but he was back at No. 3 against Pakistan this week, from where his 40 from 37 balls offered a bit of ballast before Wiese’s late onslaught helped Namibia to finish on a high. At the age of 37, and having come out of retirement specially for this campaign, he’ll be looking to produce more of the same on a wicket that may not be far removed from the sorts of slow, low surface that he’s encountered back home in Windhoek.

Team news

Despite the challenge of the itinerary, there is little need for New Zealand to fiddle with their successful line-up. Kyle Jamieson continues to wait in the wings in case of the need to rotate the quicks.

New Zealand (probable): 1 Daryl Mitchell, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Kane Williamson (capt), 4 Devon Conway (wk), 5 Glenn Phillips, 6 Jimmy Neesham, 7 Mitchell Santner, 8 Adam Milne, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Trent Boult/Kyle Jamieson, 11 Ish Sodhi.

Namibia’s captain Gerhard Erasmus has been coping with a broken finger, sustained in the tournament warm-ups, but he’s unlikely to bow out now. The one change could come in the bowling stakes, where Ben Shikongo could make way once more for Bernard Scholtz.

Namibia (probable): 1 Stephen Baard, 2 Michael van Lingen, 3 Craig Williams, 4 Gerhard Erasmus (capt), 5 David Wiese, 6 JJ Smit, 7 Jan Frylinck, 8 Zane Green (wk), 9 Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton, 10 Ruben Trumpelmann, 11 Bernard Scholtz/Ben Shikongo.

Stats that matter

  • This will be the first meeting between New Zealand and Namibia in any international format.
  • With 63 wickets in 48 appearances since the 2016 World T20, Ish Sodhi is the joint-second most-successful bowler in the T20Is in the past five years. Only Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan (83 in 41) has more.
    The average first-innings score in 22 T20Is at Sharjah is 146 for 7. However, in a reflection of the difficulty of defending totals, the average winning first-innings score at the venue rises to 163 for 6.

  • Both teams have played a solitary T20I in Sharjah. Each of those contests came in the current tournament, with Namibia defeating Ireland in the first round, before Pakistan’s victory over New Zealand in the Super 12s.

Quotes

“They are [dangerous] for sure. Especially in T20 cricket, there’s an upset just around the corner. We’ve got to be ready. We’ve got to treat it as just another match, not look too far ahead, obviously.”
Mitchell Santner acknowledges the threat that Namibia will pose in their penultimate outing of the tournament

“In T20 cricket, one person can take the game away from the opposition. And if it’s your day, you can stand up and be that Man-of-the-Match performance, and you never know what can happen.”
David Wiese has eyes on a big performance for his team

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket



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‘I feel like I have nothing to lose’

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Preparation is being disrupted by the weather and there are concerns around Covid-19, but the focus is on the Gabba

He’s never played a first-class match, let alone a Test, in Australia and the final week of preparation leading into the opening game of the Ashes in Brisbane looks set to be disrupted by the weather, but Jos Buttler is determined to go into the series unburdened by things he can’t control.

Buttler is part of the second group of England players who have now joined the full squad following their quarantine after the T20 World Cup but on leaving their Gold Coast camp for Brisbane they encountered torrential rain which wiped out the opening day of their final warm-up match.

With the forecast poor, there is a real chance England may not get any proper middle time in the days ahead. The first intrasquad match last week had just 29 overs on the first day. Australia are in the same position with their three-game likely to be canned – and have also had to deal with the off-field drama around Tim Paine’s resignation – although some of their players have been playing in the Sheffield Shield over the last two months.

Buttler did not play England’s most recent Test, against India at The Oval, due to paternity leave but had been due to regain his place for the Old Trafford match that was called off due to Covid-19 concerns. Overall it was a disjointed home season with no great Test reward for Buttler, who missed the New Zealand series due to the IPL and then made 72 runs in five innings against India, but he is ready to embrace the challenge in Australia.

“I feel like I have nothing to lose, to be honest,” he said. “It’s sort of been disjointed, that [year] just gone. Some good form and some bad form and in the year before as well. It’s the first time I’m experiencing an Ashes series [in Australia] so I’m fully determined to enjoy all the challenges that throws up. I’m excited to experience it, the good the bad, and I’m sure the highs and lows along the way.

“As a player at the minute I’m trying to bring a fearless approach and to truly try and embrace the opportunity. I know when I get to somewhere near my best that’s going to be pretty good.”

Buttler has reasonably extensive experience playing in Australia although it has all been in the white-ball formats. He averages 38.71 from 18 ODIs, has played five T20Is and has had Big Bash stints with Melbourne Renegades and most recently Sydney Thunder.

“Familiarity with some conditions is something I can dip into and hopefully not be surprised by,” he said. “But I think the challenge always as a player is to adapt to any conditions that are in front of you and adapt quickly. The practice, when you can practice, is incredibly important for that and your first five, 10 balls are vital as a player to understanding the conditions and playing accordingly. But certainly I will try to dip into that experience and I’m in my early 30s now so played quite a bit of cricket and hopefully know what to expect.”

As ever in the current world there could be further complications thrown the way of the series. It remains to be seen whether Covid-19 protocols will need to be tightened following the emergence of the Omicron variant – with cases detected in arriving passengers in New South Wales – and the impact any potential changes to international border restrictions could have on families.

Buttler was among the players to raise concerns about families not being able to join the tour but he said it was too early to be worrying about a scenario where they were unable to fly out.

“It’s a hypothetical situation at the minute. Until we get told that something’s changed there’s no decision to make and it just adds to the unknown. So it’s things I don’t really need to worry about at the moment. If something like that happens I have to get the information and we can work through it and see how that looks.”

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo



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Ban vs Pak 1st Test

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Nurul Hasan was named as Yasir’s concussion substitute, although he won’t be allowed to keep wicket

Debutant Yasir Ali was taken for scans at a local hospital in Chattogram after being stuck on the back of his helmet during Bangladesh’s second innings on the fourth morning. Wicketkeeper-batter Nurul Hasan was named as Yasir’s concussion substitute, although he won’t be allowed to keep wicket as Yasir isn’t a keeper.

The incident occurred at the end of the 30th over when Yasir ducked into a Shaheen Shah Afridi bouncer. Yasir briefly took his eye away from the delivery while getting under the ball, and was hit on the helmet.

Bangladesh’s physio Bayejidul Islam checked Yasir immediately, and he went back to batting. But an over later, Bayejid came back to check on Yasir during the drinks break, after which he walked off.

The team director Khaled Mahmud confirmed a few minutes later that Yasir was out of the Test match, with Nurul as his replacement. Yasir has been taken to Imperial Hospital for a CT scan. A BCB statement said later that “he is medically stable. However, as a precaution, he will be observed for 24 hours at the hospital.”

This is the third time Bangladesh have needed concussion substitutes. The first instance was during the Kolkata Test in 2019 when Liton Das and Nayeem Hasan were struck on the head. Mohammad Saifuddin was also substituted during an ODI against Sri Lanka in May this year.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84



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Recent Match Report – Sri Lanka vs West Indies 2nd Test 2021/22

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Roston Chase dismissed Dimuth Karunaratne late in the day, but not before another century opening stand

Sri Lanka 113 for 1 (Nissanka 61*, Karunaratne 42, Chase 1-33) vs West Indies

Pathum Nissanka breezed his way to a half-century, Dimuth Karunaratne fell eight short of a fifty that would have seen him equal a world record, and on a day in which rain washed out the first two sessions, Sri Lanka gained a significant advantage, moving to 113 for 1 in the 33.4 overs that were possible.
Before Roston Chase caught-and-bowled Karunaratne late in the day, Sri Lanka’s openers had put on 106 runs in 31 overs – their second century stand in the series. Kemar Roach, returning for this game after having been left out in favour of Shannon Gabriel, was perhaps the best of West Indies’ bowlers, delivering six overs and conceding just 12. Sri Lanka’s batters were largely untroubled by the others.

Nissanka was positive almost from the outset. He drilled a full Jason Holder ball down the ground for four to begin the second over, carved Roach past the slip cordon soon after, and although occasionally beaten by deliveries that jagged past his outside edge, was on a constant hunt for runs, moving to 20 off his first 30 balls. Karunaratne was typically conservative by comparison – defending and leaving the majority of deliveries he faced from the seamers, making just 4 from his first 30 deliveries.

Eventually though, Holder and Roach wrapped up their spells, and batting seemed to get easier. Kyle Mayers was hit for three fours – twice through the leg side by Karunaratne – in his first two overs, the only two he bowled on the first day. Nissanka attempted to dominate the left-arm spin of Veerasammy Permaul, who was playing his first Test since 2015, coming down the track in Permaul’s second over to launch him into the sightscreen.

Soon, Captain Kraigg Brathwaite had spinners bowling from both ends, and although they prompted the occasional mistake, the batters largely settled into a rhythm against them, with Nissanka scoring primarily through the off side, and Karunaratne favouring the leg side, as he often does. Nissanka got to fifty – his third in Tests, and second in the series – off the 74th ball he faced.

Karunaratne’s dismissal came against the run of play. Earlier in that Chase over, he had played a late cut and a flick through midwicket, both of which went for four. But Chase found some rip off the last delivery of that over, and turned a ball more than the batter expected, which produced a return catch off the inside half of the bat as Karunaratne attempted to drive him down the ground.

If he had got to fifty, Karunaratne would have made seven Test half-centuries in as many innings, a feat only six batters had accomplished. In any case, his last seven scores read 42, 83, 147, 66, 118, 244 and 75.

Oshada Fernando survived ten balls before the players went off for bad light. Nissanka was 61 not out off 109 balls, his scoring rate having slowed as the light faded.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf



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