Namibia upset Ireland in close contest
Namibia 160 for 8 (van der Westhuizen 34, van Schoor 31, Dockrell 3-30) beat Ireland 156 for 9 (Wilson 49, Mooney 38, van der Westhuizen 2-37) by four runs
Just as they did two years ago at the previous World Twenty20 Qualifiers, Ireland must come from behind to make it to the finals. They lost their first match at the Global Academy Ground in Dubai to Namibia by four runs, with Andrew White failing to hit the last ball for six. In 2010, Afghanistan were Ireland's conquerors in the opening game, although in the end both teams qualified and met again in the final.
Namibia were deserved winners and, as Ireland coach Phil Simmons so shrewdly predicted on Monday, "Namibia will be a dangerous team". This was the first time Namibia had beaten Ireland in a competitive match; the first six overs (the Powerplay overs) which effectively settled the match. Namibia scored 67 for the loss of just one wicket, including 24 off what proved to be John Mooney's only over, while Ireland could manage only 39, while losing both openers.
Gerry Snyman hit his first two balls to the boundary and was out to the fourth but his replacement did not hold back. Louis van der Westhuizen hit Mooney for successive sixes and Raymond van Schoor, who had already hit Trent Johnston for three fours in an over, finished the fifth with another maximum.
With the second wicket stand of 62 (in 39 balls) broken, the scoring was steady rather than spectacular and Ireland captain William Porterfield was happy to chase what he termed a par score of 160.
But when Porterfield was needlessly run out in the third over to leave Ireland 14 for 2, the pressure was on the tournament favourites. Kevin O'Brien hit four fours in a stylish 20 but when he and Alex Cusack were both dismissed in the space of 10 balls, Ireland's target looked a long way away.
Ed Joyce didn't panic but he found the mid-on fielder on the boundary and five runs from 13 balls was suddenly a wasted innings. Ireland, though, bat deep and with Mooney joining Gary Wilson, their fightback began. Mooney, despite hitting 38 off 26, was comfortably outscored by his partner, a Surrey professional.
Wilson hit eight boundaries, including three in one over, to reduce Ireland's target to 27 from the last three overs, still with five wickets left. But crucially, Wilson was now on 49 and, with the landmark in mind, he tamely hit one straight to cover point. Ireland were left to rely on the lower order to keep Mooney company to the finish.
Johnston came and went and only five singles came off the 19th over, superbly bowled by Christy Viljoen, leaving 18 to get from the last. Seven came off the first three balls but when Mooney turned for an impossible second, Andrew White, rightly, sent him back and Mooney didn't make it. White reverse-swept the fourth ball for four but Boyd Rankin was sacrificed next ball to keep White on strike for the last which only found the fielder at deep midwicket. Sorel Burger led from the front in the Namibia attack, bowing his four overs for 21 runs and although Viljoen's first three overs went for 33, the captain's faith in him was rewarded with that accurate and ultimately match-winning, penultimate over.
The Man of the Match, however, was van der Westhuizen, who followed up his top score of 34 from just 16 balls (three fours, three sixes) with two wickets, including the big one of Wilson, who, after the match put the Ireland defeat down to their bad start in both innings.
"They bowled relatively well in the conditions, with a lot of slower balls into the wicket, which is something we can take from the game. I'm happy with my own performance but would have taken nought and a win any day," Wilson said. "The ball I got was the first from that spinner (van der Westhuizen) that had held up, they had been skidding on.
"We like to make it hard for ourselves. We lost the first match last time but we usually work things out in the end and hopefully it happens again this time."