Namibia caused a massive upset on the opening day of the T20 World Cup with a 55-run win over 2014 champion and reigning Asia Cup winner Sri Lanka in a group A match on Sunday.
Namibia, which had impressed in the previous edition as well, recovered from 93 for six in the 15th over to post a challenging 163 for seven in 20 overs.
Jan Frylinck (44 off 28) and JJ Smit (31 not out off 16) did the damage in the death overs, sharing a whirlwind 69-run stand off 33 balls to raise concerns in the Sri Lankan dressing room.
Nicol Loftie-Eaton had made a handy 20 off 12 balls after the reigning Asian champion put Namibia in to bat.
The Namibian pacers, led by Ben Shikongo, wrecked the Sri Lanka top-order before bowling them out for 108 in 19 overs for a memorable win.
Shikongo missed out on a famous hat-trick after removing opener Pathum Nissanka and Danushka Gunathilak off successive balls in the fourth over.
The dangerous Bhanuka Rajapaksa (20) and skipper Dasun Shanaka (29) tried to make a match out of it but the Namibians kept taking wickets.
David Wiese, Bernard Scholtz, Frylinck and Shikongo ended up with two wickets each in what was a brilliant bowling performance.
Namibian skipper Gerhard Erasmus lauded his players for the special win but said the team has a bigger goal in mind. Namibia had managed to make the Super 12s in the previous edition.
“Incredible journey, last year was a special experience for us. We’ve started with a great win, but lot of work to do throughout this tournament still. It’s been a historic day for us. The opening day has been quite special but we want to kick on from here and qualify for the Super 12 stage.
“We understand the bigger picture as well. Credit goes to Pierre (de Bruyn) the way he has installed coaching to this team, one that’s a winning culture and one that sticks together (sic). With the limited resources, I don’t think there’s anyone else that could run such a tight ship,” he said.
Sri Lanka skipper Shanaka said three wickets in the PowerPlay hurt the team badly. He also insisted that there was no need to press the panic button after one unexpected result.
“The surface played really well, but we didn’t execute well with the ball. Didn’t bowl in the right areas and that’s a concern. Once we lose three wickets in the PowerPlay, we are usually out of the game. The plans should be simple, we need not do anything special.
“We got a good team but it’s about the process. When we are chasing 160, we need need some partnerships. Need the openers to come good and the No. 3 to click,” said Shanaka.
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