Match Report – ENG vs NAM 34th Match, Group B, June 15, 2024

Match Report – ENG vs NAM 34th Match, Group B, June 15, 2024
Match Report – ENG vs NAM 34th Match, Group B, June 15, 2024

England 122 for 5 (Brook 47*, Bairstow 31) beat Namibia 84 for 3 (van Lingen 33, Wiese 26) by 41 runs (DLS method)

Watching rain fall doesn’t sound like a nail-biting pastime but for England the hours waiting to start their final group match of this T20 World Cup, against Namibia, were gripping. England’s eventual victory, by 41 runs in a match reduced to 10 overs per side in Antigua on Saturday, was pure relief for the defending champions.

No result other than a win would have kept England in contention for the Super Eight phase but they had to get on the park for that. After the toss was delayed by three hours – won by Namibia, who chose to bowl first – they finally had the chance to control their own destiny, to a point. The equation was simple. England had to beat Namibia and then wait to see whether Australia defeated Scotland to ensure they joined the Australians in progressing from Group B.

Showers before the scheduled start returned to Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in the form of a torrential downpour just as it looked like the covers would be lifted. England had to hold onto hope of a reduced-overs match despite the rain appearing to have set in. Eventually, play began at 4pm local time, reduced to 11 overs per side, which became 10 when rain intervened once more, albeit briefly, with England 82 for 3 after eight overs.

Harry Brook’s unbeaten 47 off 20 balls and Jonny Bairstow’s 31 off 18 steadied them from a perilous 13 for 2, the pair sharing a 56-run stand for the third wicket to help lift their side to 122 for 5. With Namibia chasing a DLS- adjusted target of 126, England’s bowlers didn’t allow them to score fast enough and secured a comfortable victory, after a torturous wait.

Namibia’s dream, England’s nightmare

David Wiese conceded just a solitary run from the first over on an understandably tacky wicket, testing England openers Jos Buttler and Phil Salt by varying his lines and lengths. Then Ruben Trumpelmann removed Buttler for a four-ball duck with a wonderful inswinger that crashed into leg stump with the second ball of the next over in a dream start for Namibia. It wasn’t until 10 balls into the match that England scored their first boundary, which became two when Salt lofted wider deliveries from Trumpelmann for four down the ground and over deep third. When Wiese returned for a second over on the trot, he had Salt caught behind off an excellent knuckle ball, delivered slowly outside off stump and finding a thick edge to put England in trouble at 13 for 2 inside three overs.

Bairstow unleashed

Left-arm spinner Bernard Scholtz came into the attack in the fourth over and in for some Bairstow treatment, reverse-swept for four and muscled over long-on for six next ball. Bairstow skied Gerhard Erasmus’s third ball back over his head and, to England’s relief, the ball plugged into a gap between an advancing long-off, long-on and the bowler running back. He crashed the next through the leg side for four. Brook chimed in with a powerful six over deep midwicket off Jack Brassell and sent the next through point for four to bring up England’s fifty off 34 balls. When Erasmus returned, Bairstow immediately nailed a six over midwicket.

Bairstow survived a run-out chance on 31 and hadn’t added to his score when he top-edged an attempted cut off Scholtz towards short cover, where keeper Zane Green collected. Bairstow’s 18-ball knock was his first foray into double figures in three innings at this tournament and his highest score at a T20 World Cup, setting a solid platform after England’s shaky start before more rain arrived to halt play.

Brook in on the act

After such a long wait to learn whether they would get to play again, England’s innings were further reduced to 10 overs when rain caused another 10-minute stoppage, by which time Brook and Moeen Ali were left with twelve balls to set an imposing target. They took 19 runs off Brassell in the penultimate over, 18 of them to Brook, who finished with 4,6,4 to take England past the 100 mark. Moeen fell for 16 off six balls but Liam Livingstone blasted the first two balls he faced from Trumpelmann for six before he was run out on the last ball of the innings and left the field clutching his side in some discomfort. Ben Duckett’s appearance as substitute fielder in his place raised further concerns over Livingstone’s fitness.

Davin makes way for Wiese

Reece Topley conceded only two runs off the opening over of Namibia’s pursuit, one of them a front-foot no-ball on the first delivery of the innings. England’s bowlers were keeping a lid on Namibia’s scoring and, needing 83 more off the last four overs, Nikolaas Davin retired out on 18 off 16, the first player to do so at an ICC event, making way for the vastly experienced Wiese. He clubbed the first ball he faced – off Sam Curran, making his first appearance at this World Cup – for four through backward point. Wiese proceeded to smash back-to-back sixes off Adil Rashid over long-off and deep midwicket then pierced the covers for four.

But they needed 55 off the last two overs and Michael van Lingen holed out to Brook off Chris Jordan, brought into the side for Mark Wood on the strength of his death bowling, on the final ball of the ninth. When Jofra Archer removed Wiese, again via a Brook catch in the deep in the final over, the 39-year-old walked off amid handshakes from several England players, a fitting international farewell in his last game for Namibia, the nation he transferred his allegiance to in 2021 after 26 matches for South Africa.

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