Sandher thwarts Namibia's charge

Canada 284 (48.1 overs, Davison 125, Billcliff 90) beat Namibia 282 (49 overs, Keulder 83, Sandher 5-57) by two runs

Canada got just the start they needed against a powerful Namibian side in the opening round of the ICC Trophy. A century by Man-of-the-Match John Davison, well supported by 90 from vice-captain Ian Billcliff, allowed Canada to set a big total. Namibia came within two runs of victory, but brave captaincy, coupled with five wickets at the death from Kevin Sandher, gave Canada a thrilling win.

Canada were put into bat by Deon Kotze and immediately Davison celebrated Canada Day by smashing two boundaries off the first over. However Desmond Chumney was dismissed in the third, caught by Louis Burger off the bowling of Sarel Burger. The other opening bowler, Kola Burger, struck next, with Zubin Surkari judged lbw for 4, leaving Canada on 26 for 2 in the sixth over.

Billcliff also started aggressively, taking two boundaries from Kola Burger's fourth over. The fifty came up in the 11th over, and Davison reached his personal half-century (out of 73) four overs later. Davison treated the bowling of his counterpart, Kotze with scant respect, and the hundred came up in the 20th over. At the halfway stage of the innings Canada were 141 for 2.

Davison completed a superb 86-ball hundred, including four sixes and 12 fours, and with Billcliff added 169 before he was caught by Stefan Swanepoel off the fourth Burger to bowl. His 125 equalled the third-highest innings by a Canadian in the ICC Trophy (Muneeb Diwan made 125, also against Namibia in 1996-97). Billcliff reached his half-century and brought up the 200 in the 35th over, but Namibia halted the Canadian acceleration with three quick wickets. When Billcliff fell for an excellent 90 in the 44th over a post-300 score seemed possible, but Canada failed to bat out their overs and it almost cost them dear.

When Namibia batted, Don Maxwell made the initial breakthrough, bowling the dangerous Andries Burger for just 8. Sarel Bruger (42) and Keulder (83) however were harder to dislodge, but tight bowling meant they gradually slipped behind a challenging run-rate, and both were dismissed as they tried to accelerate.

George Codrington, a late addition to the touring party, proved his worth as he came on third change and bowled his first five overs for eight runs, capturing the wickets of Danie Keulder and Gerrie Snyman. As the required crept towards double figures, Louis and Kola Burger were forced to hit out, which they did to some effect. Kotze came in and took up the challenge, taking on Davison, and hitting a quick 22.

Davison persevered with the initially expensive Kevin Sandher, and that faith was rewarded as he grabbed wickets as Namibia hit out, taking his fifth with the final ball of the penultimate over as Canada squeaked home by just two runs.

A win over one of the strongest teams in the group is the perfect start for Canada. Assuming that they have no trouble with Papua New Guinea or Oman (both crashed to heavy defeats), Canada can assure World Cup qualification with a win over Scotland or Netherlands.