Williams double gives Namibia the Intercontinental Shield
It may have turned out a lot closer than anyone would have predicted on Thursday afternoon, but in the end Namibia took the Intercontinental Shield on Sunday, beating the United Arab Emirates by six wickets.
The final day's play was a personal triumph for the winning skipper Craig Williams, who completed his second century of the match to take his side to victory. He had made a 102-ball 116 in the first innings, and he surpassed even that in the second, taking just 95 deliveries for his undefeated 113 and hitting 15 fours and two sixes.
His superb knock dispelled any qualms that the Namibians might have had about batting last, after the UAE had taken their overnight total 403 for eight on to 427 before they were all out, setting their opponents a potentially tricky target of 187 for victory.
Saqib Ali was left unbeaten on 160, his marathon effort the polar opposite of Williams'. Saqib batted for almost ten hours and faced 403 deliveries, and his innings included 19 boundaries. It was a monument of patience and determination, but even that could not prevent the Namibian win.
Louis Klazinga picked up both the wickets that fell on Sunday, to finish with three for 98. Sarel Burger, who had bowled an amazing 47 overs on Friday and Saturday, was understandably given a rest.
He soon found himself at the crease when Namibia set out on their run chase, however, as Amjad Javed bowled Raymond van Schoor in the fourth over of the innings. With Ewald Steenkamp showing most of the aggression Amjad struck again soon afterwards, removing Burger, and the Namibians were wobbling on 27 for two.
But Williams, who now joined Steenkamp, clearly shared his partner's view that in such a situation attack was the best form of defence, and the pair proceeded to put on 52 in ten and a half overs before Amjad claimed his third wicket by trapping Steenkamp in front for 35.
Williams remained undeterred, dominating a fourth-wicket stand of 77 with Louis Burger, and by the time the latter fell to Khurram Khan's bowling only 27 were needed.
Gerrie Snyman proved a solid foil to his captain, who duly reached his second century and then went on to hit the winning single. It came as no surprise whatsoever that he was nominated Man of the Match.
Full credit must go to the Emiratis, who fought back well on the second and third days after having been skittled so comprehensively on the first. But recovering from 79 all out was too great a task, and Namibia can legitimately feel that their victory is some compensation for their having been summarily dismissed from the Intercontinental Cup after reaching the final last time.