Namibia v PNG, World T20 Qualifier, Group A, Malahide July 18, 2015

Baard and Scholtz hand PNG first defeat

ESPNcricinfo staff

Namibia 181 for 5 (Baard 87, Gavera 2-33) beat Papua New Guinea 132 (Ura 34, Scholtz 4-11, Snyman 3-18) by 49 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Namibia's left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz bowled 16 dot balls in four overs © ICC/Sportsfile

A power-packed half-century from 23-year old Stephan Baard was followed up by a triple-wicket maiden from Bernard Scholtz as Namibia outplayed Papua New Guinea by 49 runs in Malahide.

Often times there is nothing quite like scoreboard pressure. It's doubly useful on a tired pitch where the slower you bowl the harder it is to hit. Before the game, Namibia had decided that if the ball was too full or too short, their batsmen would go after it. Come game day, they amassed 181 for 5 in their 20 overs. As with such big scores, one of the top order goes on to score big.

Baard typified Namibia's pre-game attack plan. When the ball was overpitched, he drove viciously through cover and mid-off. Three fours and two sixes came from that part of the ground. Then when PNG were forced to bowl flatter and shorter, he used the sweep and the pull liberally. Meanwhile, Namibia got past 60 runs in the Powerplay for a third time in the tournament and he eased to a fifty off 27 balls.

He did slow down thereafter, but consequently stayed at the crease until the penultimate over to ensure the early platform amounted to a sizeable total. Baard, with 233 runs at an average of 77.66 is the top-scorer of this year's World T20 Qualifier, so Namibia's middle order simply had to bat around him. Sarel Burget, at No. 5, made 38 runs off 20 balls in a fourth-wicket partnership that yielded 74 runs in 42 balls.

That he didn't pick up the Man-of-the-Match award indicates the value of Scholtz's effort with the ball. He offered no pace for the batsman and profited when they tried to make some of their own. That can be a difficult plan for a spinner to trust, considering this was slam-bang T20 cricket. But in Malahide, the ball wasn't coming onto the bat and it was a pretty large ground too.

So Scholtz kept bowling slow and broke PNG's chase in the 13th over. Charles Amini mistimed a loft because of the lack of pace and was caught at long-on. Next ball, Scholtz slowed it up further and Mahuru Dai swept across the line straight to deep midwicket. The hat-trick ball was looped up above the eyeline as well, got loads of turn to hit new batsman John Reva on the pads, but it had pitched outside leg stump. He would finish the over trapping Reva plumb in front for the score to dip from 90 for 4 to 90 for 7. Scholtz bowled 16 dot balls in his four overs, Papua New Guinea's priorities shifted from hunting down the runs to lasting the 20 overs.

Things had looked very different at the start of the chase. Tony Ura helped ransack 68 runs in the first six overs to keep Papua New Guinea well ahead of the rate. He had five fours and a six in his 21-ball 34 and was looking especially good while driving the ball. But Namibia found a way past him through a run-out and thereafter did not find much resistance to their progress to the top of the Group A table thereafter. If they remain on top until the end of the league stage, they will claim direct qualification into the World T20 in India next year.

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