Smit stars as Namibia edge out Kenya
An all-round effort from 18-year-old JJ Smit has seen Namibia record a nail-biting two wicket victory over Kenya at the World Cup Qualifier in windy conditions at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui, on Friday.
After restricting Kenya to 186 for eight, Namibia chased down the total with seven balls to spare, with tail-ender JJ Smit scoring an unbeaten 33 from 25 balls after claiming three wickets to ensure victory in the penultimate over.
Captain Sarel Burger top scored with a patient 45, anchoring the Namibia innings as the side tried to overhaul Kenya's moderate total. Nicolaas Scholtz added 30, but it was man of the match Smit who finally guided the team to victory.
For Kenya, Lameck Onyango, Hiren Varaiya and Steve Tikolo took two wickets apiece.
Earlier, Smit took three wickets to help restrict Kenya to a modest total of 186 for eight.
Player-coach Steve Tikolo (47) and captain Rakep Patel (44) were the main contributors with the bat, after Kenya lost three early wickets to be struggling at 11 for three. Varaiya (32) added late runs to lift the final run rate as Kenya reached 186 for eight.
However, the day belonged to youngster Smit, who felt his man of the match award was a reflection of a strong all-round team performance. "We put it all in from the start, the intensity was up, and in the fielding it showed. There were some amazing catches and great fielding from everyone, and we did our best."
Namibia captain Burger was delighted with Smit's performance: "He's showing great composure, I think he's bowling out of his boots at the moment and obviously kept it all together there at the end."
Burger was pleased that his side was able to perform well under pressure: "Obviously in these types of games, the nerves get up. But I think that the guys kept their composure, and went well."
"The nice thing is there's a couple of different guys doing the job out there, so we're looking forward to everyone gelling together and then things will go quite well", he said.
Kenya captain Rakep Patel said the pressure is now on his team to perform well in its final two matches. "I am very disappointed because that was our second match and we lost. We thought if we could have won that game we could have had chances to go to the Super Six stage. Now we have to win both the remaining games. It is more difficult."
The skipper felt Kenya's bowlers had performed well under pressure. "With that game, I thought we just gave so many chances. I thought the bowlers bowled well though, but the catches weren't taken, so the pressure was all on us."
"The batting has been clicking well. If you see the conditions, it was a little bit difficult and we scored 180. I thought it was a defendable score but just that the catches – we just didn't take them and it cost us."
In the second match of the day, Hong Kong completed a comprehensive nine wicket victory, chasing down Canada's modest total of 171 all out at Rangiora Oval, Christchurch, with almost 25 overs to spare.
Canada opener Nitish Kumar (28) and number-three batsman Trevin Bastiampillai (29) provided steady runs, however, the side lost wickets regularly and was not able to build any partnerships. Raza-ur-Rehman (28) and Hamza Tariq (23) were the only other batsmen to make contributions before the side was dismissed for 171 with two overs to spare.
Hong Kong's Haseeb Amjad took three wickets, while Waqas Barkat and Aizaz Khan took two apiece.
Hong Kong opener Irfan Ahmed (100 not out) and captain Jamie Atkinson (63 not out) made light work of the run chase, putting on an unbeaten partnership of 166 to chase down its target with 24.4 overs to spare. Man of the match Irfan faced 85 balls for his century, striking 14 boundaries and two sixes.
It was Hong Kong's second win for the tournament, and Canada's second loss.
Man of the match Irfan Ahmed was very pleased with his performance: "I feel great, it was a good opportunity for me. It was a good wicket to bat on. The runs were coming easily as they were pitching the ball up and I just kept hitting."
"I took my time to start with, but once I was in I just kept playing my shots," he said.
Skipper Jamie Atkinson was delighted with his batting partner's performance. "I was happy to play second fiddle today. I had the best seat in the house to watch Irfan's hundred – it was sensational."
The captain said that the side will need to continue its good form into its remaining group matches. "Obviously the lads are in a great mood after having two very good wins against two very good sides in Scotland and Canada so the lads have taken a lot of confidence out of these two games."
"After two good wins confidence in the team is high, but in cricket one bad day at the office can change all that. We've got two tough games coming up against Nepal and UAE, we just need to work on remaining consistent," he said.
Canada captain Jimmy Hansra was understandably disappointed. "We just didn't perform with the bat or in the field. I think it was a 250 wicket, and we needed a really good performance to defend 171. But unfortunately we lacked discipline in the field."
Looking ahead to Canada's remaining group matches, Hansra said: "We must win our two remaining games. We have to get ourselves mentally ready and get the little things right before we come up against Nepal in our next game."