Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Namibia miss David Wiese's memo. Unlike Namibia, Afghanistan's bowlers were up to the task
Unlike Namibia, Afghanistan's bowlers were up to the task
The Namibia bowlers came into the game against Afghanistan a bit like spoiled children. Who could really blame them? Every wish they had against Scotland, was granted. Every plan they tried, worked like magic. There was swing, there was movement, and then there was the perfect start courtesy Ruben Trumpelmann.
Afghanistan was always going to be a tougher challenge and, on the day, the onus was on the Namibia bowlers to do the heavy lifting. Like against Scotland, Trumpelmann got the opening ball landing perfectly on length, got some away swing, and even got Hazratullah Zazai's inside edge. Unlike in the game against Scotland though, where George Munsey chopped on, there was no wicket on the opening delivery. Zazai would go on to hit the second and the fifth for a four and a six respectively.
It was pretty evident in the opening two overs that there wasn't going to be any swing on offer. That's where David Wiese's third over was crucial in the context of the game. Wiese's opening delivery pitched back of length, stuck on the pitch a bit and took Zazai's leading edge only to fall safe near midwicket. Wiese followed the same template on the fourth, fifth and the final delivery and Zazai struggled against all three of them. That was the template right there for Namibia but they missed Wiese's memo.
In the next two overs – from Trumpelmann and Jan Frylinck – there were just two slower deliveries, both by the latter. In those two overs, Zazai hit three fours and six as Afghanistan went on to end the powerplay with 50 on the board without loss. “The plan was to stay away from their hitting zone. We know what their hitting zone is – it's the ball that is full,” Namibia coach Pierre de Bruyn said after the game about their plans to the Afghanistan batters. He was, however, left to rue the execution on the day.
“Our plan was to go back of length, use the variation of pace and we got it right early on. If you look at the dot percentage of the Afghanistan batters, it was very high. They relied on their boundaries. They hit 20 boundaries (22) and that's a boundary an over. It really cost us. When we got it right, we were really good but you can't miss your mark at this level.
“You know, the bowling unit itself, I thought we executed good plans today. The moment we didn't execute, we were punished, and I suppose those are good lessons.”
Make no mistake, it wasn't a poor bowling performance. However, Namibia were guilty of deviating from their set plans when put under pressure. It took three experienced batters from Afghanistan to get the team to a strong total. While Zazai was the aggressor early on, it was Mohammad Shahzad's turn to wait his turn. Zazai got the runs in the opening six overs while Shahzad struck 45 off 33 to keep the runs flowing post that. Asghar Afghan, who bid an emotional farewell to the game, was on 5 off 8 when Shahzad was dismissed.
Afghan was quick to take the responsibility of taking the innings forward and struck a boundary against Gerhard Erasmus and then launched Jan Frylinck back over his head for a six. On an afternoon where Namibia couldn't quite set on their plans, Afghanistan shelved their mercurial approach which they adopted against Pakistan and were calculative. When Zazai got going, Shahzad held his end up. When Shahzad got his rhythm, Afghan rotated the strike. And when Najibullah Zadran struggled to get going, Afghan struck 14 off seven to ease the pressure.
At 113 for 4 in the 14th over, Afghanistan needed a strong finish. Afghan was set but Mohammad Nabi's cameo took the chase out of Namibia's reach. The Afghanistan captain smashed 32 off 17 to help the side finish with 160 on the board. No team has successfully chased 160 or more against Afghanistan since the start of 2016. Namibia already had their backs against the ball and to make matters worse, the Afghanistan pacers read the pitch perfectly and landed fatal early blows.
Naveen-ul-Haq's slower balls were too hot to handle for Craig Williams and Michael van Lingen while Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton was bowled, slogging another slower delivery from Gulbadin Naib. Three wickets before Rashid Khan came into the attack and the writing was already on the wall for Namibia. “We've learned some dear lessons today,” de Bruyn pointed out. “It was always going to be difficult. You're against top players. We had a plan, we had a game plan on how to approach that power play. It was all about no damage. The moment you lose four wickets in a power play, you're behind.
“If you look at our dismissals, every batter will go and say that they got themselves out. One or two good yorkers on the day that a batter can say there was a good ball, but we know, we've been here long enough to know on these wickets you've got to play straight.”