Namibia Well Placed to Reach T20 World Cup

SIX places will be up for grabs at next year's T20 World Cup when the final qualifying event starts in Dubai this weekend and Namibia will fancy their chances of making the cut after an impressive season.

A total of 14 teams will compete in two groups in Dubai, with Namibia drawn in Group A alongside Scotland, the Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Kenya and Bermuda, while Group B consists of the UAE, Ireland, Oman, Hong Kong, Canada, Jersey and Nigeria.

The winner of each group will advance directly to the semifinals, while also securing direct qualification for the World Cup, which will be held in Australia from 18 October to 15 November next year.

Six more teams, three from each group, will qualify for the play-offs, and for the final four places at the World Cup.

The top six teams will then progress to the 2020 World Cup where they will join Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the first group stage in Australia. The top four teams from this stage will qualify for the Super 12 phase, where they will join the top cricketing nations, Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan.

Namibia has had a great season during which they won the World Cricket League Division 2 trophy in Windhoek in April, while they also recently completed a successful trip to the United States in the ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 tournament.

After losing their opening match to the United States, they beat them in the return leg and also won both their matches against PNG to go to the top of the log along with Scotland, Oman and the USA.

Namibia, which is ranked 19th on the ICC T20 world rankings, can expect stronger competition now against the likes of Scotland, who are ranked 11th, and the 18th ranked Netherlands, whom they face in their opening match on Saturday, while Hong Kong (ranked 20th), Canada (24) and Jersey (25) who are all ranked below them could also provide stiff competition.

All three these nations remained unbeaten in warm-up matches this week, with Hong Kong also beating Namibia by four wickets with one ball remaining on Monday.

Of the other teams in Group A, PNG is ranked 17th in the world, Singapore 21st, Kenya 29th and Bermuda 30th.

Namibia, however, have strong batting and bowling line-ups, with several players all contributing to their success this season.

Amongst the batsmen, JP Kotze has been in great form, after smashing three brilliant centuries. In April he scored 148 off only 86 balls against Hong Kong; in August he hit 101 not out off 43 balls in a T20 victory against Botswana; and in September he hit 136 off 109 balls against the USA.

Other batsmen like captain Gerhard Erasmus, Stephen Baard, Jan Frylinck, Zane Green, JJ Smit and Niko Davin have also been in fine form, while the veteran Craig Williams scored 42 not out, including 32 runs off one over in a five-wicket victory against PNG last week.

Amongst the bowlers, Namibia is also well-stocked, with Frylinck, JJ Smit and Christi Viljoen leading the pace attack, and Bernard Scholtz and Zhivago Groenewald the spinners.

Group B seems to be very tight with the top ranked nations, UAE (12th in the world), Ireland (14) and Oman (16), joined by Hong Kong (20), Canada (24), Jersey (25) and Nigeria (37).

The UAE, however, suffered a major blow when three of their leading players were charged for breaching the ICC's anti-corruption code, under investigation for match fixing in the upcoming tournament.

They are the captain Mohammed Naveed, their leading batsman Shaiman Anwar and seam bowler Qadeer Ahmed.

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