January 29, 2003

Namibia fight back after Al Sahariar hits 177

Andrew Poolman

Namibia surprised friend and foe on Wednesday in the fifth and final match in the Alexander Forbes one-day series, chasing hard after a target of 275 and falling short in the last over by a mere nine runs.

Man of the Match Al Sahariar scored a magnificent 177 runs for the touring side from only 145 balls. The opening batsman was in aggressive mood, hitting his first 50 off only 29 balls and finishing with 15 fours and seven sixes.

If you subtract the ten extras concede by the bowlers, all the other batsmen played a very secondary role, with only Habibul Bashar adding significantly to the 87 runs not scored by Al Sahariar.

Fast bowler Björn Kotzé took the wickets of five of the top seven Bangladesh batsmen to finish with 5/38 off 10 overs.

Bangladesh narrowly clinched a decisive 3-1 series on Sunday with a one wicket win over Namibia, and even the most optimistic supporters of the home team would not have had much hope after Bangladesh were finally bowled out for 274 with 16 balls still left of their innings.

However, the Namibian batsmen put together their best performance of the season, showing a fighting spirit which may stand them in good stead in the World Cup next month.

Riaan Walters (44 off 49) and Louis Burger (48 off 54) put on 98 for the first wicket at almost a run a ball. When both fell within the space of two runs, Jan-Berrie Burger (57 off 55, 5x4, 2x6) and Danie Keulder (61 off 75, 2x4, 2x6) built another big partnership of 102.

Keulder's runout started the rot for Namibia as the home team lost their last five wickets for only 12 runs.

Needing 12 to win off the last over, last pair Sarel Burger and Björn Kotzé was simply left with too much to do.

Mohammad Rafique of Bangladesh was named man of the series following his good allround performances, taking ten wickets in four matches and averaging 41 with the bat, with a highest score of 47 not out and best bowling of 4/19.

Both teams leave for South Africa on Saturday.