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Namibia coach de Bruyn: 'We have won a lot of hearts'

Namibia coach also thanks the bigger teams for making them feel like they belonged on the big stage

Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn on their T20 World Cup performance: It's been an emotional rollercoaster  •  Getty Images

Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn on their T20 World Cup performance: It's been an emotional rollercoaster  •  Getty Images

From beating Ireland and Scotland to make the Super 12s to putting up a fight against New Zealand in the last match, Namibia have exceeded everyone's expectations, head coach Pierre de Bruyn said. He added that Namibia were ready to give their "last little push" and have "no excuses" as they come up against "best in the world" India in their last group match.
"It's been an emotional rollercoaster for all of us," de Bruyn said. "We came here with expectations but I think we exceeded that and with that the pressure mounted and these players have really announced themselves. We thought it was a cricket Namibia story for our country but it's become a global story where we've inspired not just our kids back home but globally we have won a lot of hearts."
In three of their four Super 12 matches, Namibia, first-timers at the tournament, managed to bat out the entire 20 overs. de Bruyn feels that's been one of the positives despite the losses. Their bowlers managed to keep the New Zealand batters in check in the last match, allowing them to score at just over six per over till the 16th. In reply, they made 111 for 7, batting conservatively as the Kiwi quicks ran riot.
"We have played 40-overs cricket in this group, we have not been blown away by any team in 10 overs or 12 overs or anything like that. We've been willing to stretch the game and give ourselves a good chance against these top oppositions. Tomorrow's a classic game where you go in and you need to hold your own, you need to take brutal accountability for what you're going to bring to the team. It's the last little push. It's been a long tour and it's been an emotional rollercoaster to say the least.
"Facing the best in the world can be overwhelming and it's all about staying composed and this team, especially with the ball, has shown that they are willing to hold on and compete like we showed in the game against New Zealand - they were 94 for 4 after 16 overs - so the learnings for us is that we're going to treasure that, we're going to hold on hard to that because these lessons - good or bad - are only going to make you a better team and they're to make you a better player."
De Bruyn said that Namibia are relishing the chance to go up against India and all their superstars. "As players, you always look to plan ahead of a game like that. We know upfront with the bat how they play. If you're not going to execute your plans or execute your skills you know they are going to punish you. That's a guarantee. We want to finish the campaign on a high. It's been 45 days in the bubble. There are no excuses. Tomorrow's a platform for any player to face the best in the world.
"We've got to execute our plans at the death in a more brave way. We've got plans, we've got best plans. We've got skills. To hit a yorker we've trained for two years. I think the bowlers just need to go back tomorrow to that area. It's an area where you're going to be under the pump. When the batters come at you, they're not going to let go. I think tomorrow a big goal is to make sure in the death we execute our plans and skills with confidence."
Among the bright spots for Namibia have been their left-arm quicks, with Ruben Trumpelmann, Jan Frylinck and JJ Smit especially impressive at various points. While Trumpelmann rocked Scotland with three wickets in an over, Frylinck's moment came in the win against Ireland in the first round when he too picked up three crucial wickets. Smit, meanwhile, has gone for over 30 in only one out of the seven matches he's been part of. Thanks to their efforts only England (5.26) and New Zealand (5.66) have an economy rate better than theirs (5.91) in the first six overs at this tournament.
"Ruben has really worked hard from a physical point of view. He's definitely got some more ball speed. We're going to work on that, we're busy working on that physically," de Bruyn said. "And I feel that against an Indian team - Rohit Sharma, those type of batters, obviously there's going to be nerves. But don't change what's been working for you.
"Frylinck was always in the background doing the grubby work. He relies on skill. He's our little street fighter. He will come and clean up if there's been a big over. He backs himself in the death. Our bowling attack with the experience of David Wiese, and with the new ball you can get it to swing, against India the first two-three overs are going to be critical for us. We've shown that against Pakistan. We had Pakistan in the powerplay at 29 for no loss. We are capable of using that new ball with what we have in our bowling attack."
Ahead of their last match in the tournament, de Bruyn said that the bigger teams made Namibia feel like "they belonged" at the tournament.
"On and off the field we respect the opposition and we respect the game. I think that's why the opposition respects us. They have all reached out not just on the field but at the hotels. The Proteas have been amazing support for us. We shared the same hotel for a long period of time. We've got 16-17 players in our national team we've picked from. And what these guys have put in and what they have done in this World Cup for me is incredible but we also want to show the cricket world that a small nation, an associate country we also belong. That's what New Zealand has showed us the other night and the Pakistan team…it makes you feel that you belong and you are allowed to compete with these teams. I want to thank these teams for reaching out to associate teams. They just need that little bit of comfort and feeling wanted. We certainly felt that."

Sruthi Ravindranath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo