Van der Westhuizen blasts Namibia to win
Namibia 192 for 3 (van der Westhuizen 106*) beat Scotland 143 by 49 runs
If a century is scored in an empty stadium, does it make a sound? The answer is yes according to one photographer on the field Wednesday afternoon inside the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Each time Louis van der Westhuizen connected with one of his eight sixes for Namibia, it sounded like a gunshot had been fired from the crease. Scotland certainly grew weary of hearing the rat-a-tat-tat off his bat that started 11 balls into the match and didn't stop until the innings concluded with the broad-shouldered, brutally elegant left-hander 106 not out off 54 balls in 33 degrees.
"It was quite hot, I think I'm a bit dehydrated now," van der Westhuizen told ESPNcricinfo after receiving the Man-of-the-Match award for his performance in Namibia's 49-run win. "It's hot but it's always nice to get a century."
Namibia lost their first wicket with six on the board when Gerrie Snyman was beaten for pace by Safyaan Sharif. After top-scoring with 34 off 16 in Tuesday's win over Ireland, van der Westhuizen arrived in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday ready to convert another start into the first century of the tournament.
He hit his fifth ball into the sight screen at the Media End off Scotland captain Gordon Drummond. It was a warning shot signalling his intentions for the carnage he was set to unleash two overs later against off-spinner Preston Mommsen.
Van der Westhuizen took the first ball from Mommsen and effortlessly lifted it over mid off for his second six, then followed it by flaying Mommsen over point for a boundary. On the next delivery, he leaned forward to launch the frazzled Mommsen over extra cover for another six. The over went for 18 and took the score to 43 for 1. Namibia, and van der Westhuizen, never looked back from there.
"I think the fifth over was a bit of a turning point," van der Westhuizen said. "I got used to the pace of the wicket and then started stroking the ball good."
The second-wicket partnership between van der Westhuizen and Raymond van Schoor added 86 in nine overs. Van Schoor was eventually trapped leg before for 30 when he missed a sweep against Drummond. Craig Williams came in and picked up the pace even more with two sixes but was caught on the midwicket rope going for a third.
Van der Westhuizen continued on with his chanceless knock, beginning the final over on 88 and on strike to Richie Berrington, the only bowler to escape van der Westhuizen's wrath to that point in time. But the Namibian didn't let Berrington get off scot-free. Van der Westhuizen lofted the first ball over long off to go to 94. Berrington bowled a meaty full toss on the next delivery which was clubbed over long on to bring up van der Westhuizen's century in 51 balls. There was time for one more boundary as well before the innings finished with Namibia 192 for 3.
Scotland came out fighting to start the chase as Berrington laced two fours in front of point in a 17-run first over. Scotland were 45 for 1 after five but lost all momentum when van der Westhuizen came on to start the sixth and removed Berrington for 31 on his first delivery to continue a dream match. Berrington missed a sweep, was struck dead in front and with that Scotland's momentum stalled.
Any hope Scotland had of winning drifted away for good when Kyle Coetzer was bowled for 22 by van Schoor, foxed by a slower ball, to make it 90 for 5 one ball into the 13th over. The chase was abandoned and Majid Haq made sure to bat out the overs. Haq finished 27 not out in 21 balls and Scotland ended on 143 for 8.
After winning their first two matches against ODI nations to start off tournament, Namibia are now in the driver's seat to top Group B by the end of round-robin play on March 20. They play a winless USA on Thursday, who Namibia beat in a warm-up fixture last week by 22 runs. Van der Westhuizen isn't ready to pencil his team into the knockout phase just yet though.
"We're a very unpredictable side," van der Westhuizen said. "Like today if it comes off and we can just keep our composure, we are always in the running."
Peter Della Penna is a freelance journalist based in New Jersey