T20 World Cup: Pakistan test themselves in win over Namibia, qualify for semifinals with six-wicket win

Updated on Nov 02, 2021 11:49 PM IST

Pakistan qualified for the semi-final with a 45-run win over Namibia in the T20 World Cup game at Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan's Hasan Ali celebrates after the dismissal of Namibia's Michael van Lingen during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between Namibia and Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.(ANI)
Pakistan's Hasan Ali celebrates after the dismissal of Namibia's Michael van Lingen during the ICC men's Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between Namibia and Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.(ANI)
By, Mumbai

There’s been the odd team with a different strategy but generally at this T20 World Cup the captain doesn’t have to think twice about what to do on winning the toss — put in the opposition has been a successful ploy. Pakistan won their first three games doing that. 

On Tuesday too, their captain Babar Azam called correctly against Namibia. He could have taken the easy route and chosen to bowl first. There was earlier evidence of why batting first was fraught with risk at Abu Dhabi as Bangladesh were dismissed for 84 in the 19th over against South Africa in the day’s first game at the venue. 

Azam though decided to bat. It was in preparation for the semifinals. Instead of experimenting with the combination, he used the game to test his team in anticipation of a challenging scenario of defending a total, which has been difficult in heavy dew later in the evening. 

The talented and seasoned Pakistan batsmen used their vast experience to score a huge 189/2. Openers Azam and Mohammad Rizwan shared another hundred-plus partnership, the former scoring a classy 70 (50 balls) and the keeper-batsman 79* (50 balls). Pakistan restricted Namibia to 143/5 to win by 45 runs and book their semifinal spot with an all-win record after four games. 

Despite the mismatch between the sides, the India camp would have keenly followed the game. Not as much for their plans against Namibia who they play later, but to check the surface. India play their only group game at this venue, against Afghanistan, on Wednesday.   

The way the first half of the Pakistan innings went would have worried India. They know the scoreboard doesn’t tell the entire story. Namibia proved no pushovers and gave Pakistan a good workout in the first 10 overs, restricting them to 59 runs. Virat Kohli’s side, facing a must-win game against the dangerous Afghanistan, must also score big to improve the net run-rate, which is a dismal minus1.609. Kohli certainly needs the luck of the toss to change after losing two. 

Batting first proved a proper struggle for the Pakistan openers. The in-form Azam and Rizwan could muster just 29 runs in the powerplay. “It was difficult to bat at the start, and Azam and I decided to take the game deep,” said Rizwan at the post-match presentation. 

Captain Gerhard Erasmus used his three left-armers well during that period. Off the first six overs, four were shared by Ruben Trumpelmann, JJ Smit and Jan Frynlinck. At the end of the 10th over, Pakistan had reached just 59 runs.   

Just like England’s innings on Monday against Sri Lanka, the script changed after the half-way stage. Pakistan plundered 130 runs in the last 10 overs. After Azam’s stylish innings, Mohammad Hafeez produced a cameo of 16-ball 32* before Rizwan finished strongly with 24 runs off the final over.         

The main test that the Pakistan think-tank had in mind was how their bowlers would fare with a relatively wet ball. It proved to be tough. There was no early success for their main strike bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi. He went wicketless for 36 runs. Pakistan’s main spinner Shadab Khan was taken for 35 runs, for just one wicket.

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