T20 World Cup: Waseem the hero as UAE clinch thriller against Namibia

It was also the UAE's first-ever victory in a T20 World Cup match


Rituraj Borkakoty

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The UAE's Muhammad Waseem (centre) and his teammates celebrate their dramatic win over Namibia. (AFP)
The UAE's Muhammad Waseem (centre) and his teammates celebrate their dramatic win over Namibia. (AFP)

Published: Thu 20 Oct 2022, 4:06 PM

In what was the best match of the ICC T20 World Cup so far, opener Muhammad Waseem's fighting half-century and his brilliant last over with the ball helped the UAE beat Namibia by seven runs in in Geelong, Australia, on Thursday.

Having set the platform for the UAE's competitive total of 148 for three with a 50 off 41 balls, Waseem was given the responsibility to defend 14 runs in the final over after David Wiese (55 off 36 balls) and Ruben Trumpelmann (25 not out off 24 balls) were on the verge of breaking the UAE hearts.

With a remarkable 70-run stand for the eighth wicket, Wiese and Trumpelmann lifted the Namibians from a precarious position after they were gasping for breath at 69 for seven in the 13th over.

But pacer Zahoor Khan (4-0-20-2) bowled a brilliantly in the penultimate over, giving away only seven runs as Namibia needed 14 runs off the final over.

After much deliberation with his teammates, captain CP Rizwan gave the ball to Waseem, a part-time medium pacer.

But Waseem rose to the challenge, perhaps the biggest challenge of his life on a cricket field.

Using his slower balls brilliantly, Waseem gave away only six runs in the final over and struck the decisive blow when he had Wiese caught in the deep.

In the end, the Namibians finished their innings at 141 for eight, sparking wild celebrations among the UAE players.

The 37-year-old Wiese, who had also played international cricket for South Africa in the past, was inconsolable at the dug out as Namibia bowed out of the tournament with a heartbreaking loss.

The thrilling UAE victory ended Namibia's hopes of qualifying for the Super 12 as Sri Lanka and the Netherlands advanced to the next round from Group A.

It was also the UAE's first-ever victory in the T20 World Cup, having lost their previous two matches in this edition as well as all of their three matches in 2014 when they qualified for the first time.

Batsmen deliver

On Thursday, the UAE batsmen finally managed to put up a decent total of 148 for three.

Waseem (50 off 41 balls) and captain CP Rizwan (43 not out off 29 balls) were the top two scorers for the UAE after they won the toss and elected to bat.

But it was Basil Hameed's cameo (25 not out off 14 balls) that propelled the UAE to a fighting total after they were struggling at 115 for three in 18 overs.

Waseem and his opening partner, Vriitya Aravind (21 off 32 balls), had made a cautious start adding 39 runs in 8.1 overs.

When Aravind became the first batsman to fall, Rizwan joined Waseem and the two batsmen rebuilt the innings with the latter beginning to play some shots, including three big sixes.

But Waseem fell at the team score of 97 and Alishan Sharafu, the next man, also failed to capitalised on the chance given to him by the team management to bat at number four.

Basil Hameed joined Rizwan and used the pull shot to perfection for two big sixes as Rizwan too found his top gear in the back end of the innings.

Thanks to their late flourish, the UAE scored 33 runs in the last two overs, allowing their bowlers to have a go at the Namibians.

Continuing their impressive form in the tournament, the UAE bowlers then exploited the conditions beautifully as Namibia failed to deal with their swing and spin.

The Namibians were staring at a big defeat when they were reduced to 69 for seven in the 13th over.

But Wiese and Trumpelmann staged a great fightback only for Waseem to douse their fire at the death.

Having got off to a dream start with a stunning victory over Asian champions Sri Lanka, Namibia were distraught after missing out on a chance to reach the Super 12 stage.

The UAE, on the other hand, will rue their disappointing performances with the bat in the first two matches against the Netherlands and Sri Lanka.

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