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April 3, 2008
Scotland go into their latest match of their Intercontinental Cup campaign acutely aware that nothing less than a win tomorrow against Namibia, who lead the table, will suffice if they're to stay in the competition.
Scotland are languishing in fifth place on 26 points. Although the weather hasn't helped them this season - two draws were rained off - they nevertheless need to perform now if they've any hope of staying alive.
"It is a must-win game for us," Ryan Watson, the captain, admitted. "We have been hurt by the weather in previous fixtures and so it has not turned out how we wanted but we still have a chance.
"They (Namibia) are in the middle of their season and have been doing well in the South African competition they play in so this match is going to be one hell of a challenge."
Ironically, having got on the road and away from the unpredictable Scottish weather, there is a chance that this four-day game in a region that boasts the famous Kalahari Desert could be interrupted by rain. There has been an unusually large amount of rainfall in the Windhoek area in recent weeks and the Met Office has predicted a mixture of sunshine and showers for the next few days.
"There's nothing we can do about that," Watson said. "We have prepared well for this tour. We've been here for a week now and we had a good win over a Namibia Invitational XI. Ideally we would have had one more preparation game but I think we are ready to go. No excuses, we know it will be tough but we have a good side."
Without the services of Dougie Brown and Kyle Coetzer, the Scots will rely on the experience of Gavin Hamilton, Fraser Watts, Neil McCallum and the skipper for the majority of their runs while John Blain has been in good form with the ball.
The pitch at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek is normally a batsman's dream but with all the rain that has been around, it is not known how it will play this time. It might even take a bit of spin and, in that case, Majid Haq could come to the fore for Scotland.
In contrast to Scotland, Namibia's confidence is high. Topping the ICC Intercontinental Cup table ahead of Kenya in second place and defending champion Ireland in third, Namibia are favourites to make the final but Louis Burger, the captain, refuses to get carried away.
"Scotland is a really good team and we know it's going to be a tough battle for us. They will come hard at us because they know they need full points from this game or they are probably out of contention," Burger said.
"But the atmosphere in our team is very good. Everyone is happy and confidence is high so we are not going to be a pushover either. We love this competition, we take it very seriously and before it started we targeted a place in the final. We know that if we can just focus on our game and do what we do well, we should be OK."
The Namibia squad reads like a list of in-form players. Gerri Snyman, Craig Williams, Jan-Berrie Burger and Bjorn Kotze are all in the runs while Louis Klazinga, Kola Burger and Snyman are all in a hot streak with ball in hand.
Namibia: Louis Burger (capt), JB Burger, Raymond van Schoor, Gerri Snyman, Deon Kotze, Bjorn Kotze, Kola Burger, Tobias Verwey, Louis Klazinga, Craig Williams, Sean Silver, Sarel Burger, Nicolaas Scholtz.
Scotland Ryan Watson (capt), Richard Berrington, John Blain, Gordon Drummond, Gavin Hamilton, Majid Haq, Omer Hussain, Dougie Lockhart, Neil McCallum, Dewald Nel, Glenn Rogers, Qasim Sheikh, Simon Smith, Fraser Watts, Sean Weeraratna, Craig Wright.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala