T20 World Cup: Namibia have a point to prove against heavyweights Sri Lanka

All-rounder David Wiese enjoying underdog status for Monday's clash in Abu Dhabi

The UAE’s first day of T20 World Cup cricket will culminate with one of the most imbalanced fixtures in the competition’s history, judged on resources and tournament pedigree.

On the one hand is Namibia, who are playing in the T20 showpiece for the first time. At 19th in the world, they are the lowest-ranked side in the competition.

Three teams who are not even in the tournament – Zimbabwe, Nepal and UAE – are ranked higher than them in the ICC’s official standings.

In opposition, they will find the last-but-one winners of the tournament. Sri Lanka were champions in 2014, when they beat India in the final in Dhaka.

With all that considered, it might be easy to think Sri Lanka will coast it in the 6pm fixture at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Even they seem to think so. A press release on the Sri Lanka Cricket website in the lead up to the tournament suggested the encounter “on paper looks like a cakewalk”.

That did not go unnoticed by the Namibians, who have taken the assessment as both motivation and amusement.

After the side completed their quarantine on arrival in Dubai, coach Albie Morkel tweeted that it had been a #pieceofcake.

To celebrate the birthday of spinner of Bernard Scholtz, they made sure there was cake.

And captain Gerhard Erasmus might well make mention of it ahead of the game.

“Someone wrote on Twitter that is was probably our changing room chat before the game,” Erasmus said.

“That’s that sorted. You draw inspiration from things like that – being the underdog. With all respect to the writer, it is only something that can work in our favour.

“I guess both us and the Dutch team will use something like that to our advantage.

"I don’t think disrespecting a team like that with words can go in your favour at all. If we can serve them the cake on the night, it should be good.”

Only one of the Namibia players has experienced facing Sri Lanka before. All-rounder David Wiese made his T20 international debut for South Africa in a series in Sri Lanka, and was on the winning side against them in Delhi during the last T20 World Cup.

“Namibia are always being underestimated,” Wiese said. “We embrace that kind of thing. Sure, don’t take us seriously. Think it will be an easy game.

“But there is a lot of talent in Namibia. Hopefully other teams will focus on me coming into the squad and forget about other guys.

“There are so many talented guys who are capable of winning a game on any given day.

“We embrace the underdog tag and enjoy fighting for what we have. We are going to go out there and give it our best, and leave nothing behind.”

Updated: October 18th 2021, 2:57 AM