The T20 World Cup in Australia had a dramatic start as Asia Cup champions Sri Lanka were shocked by Namibia.
Inspired by a fine all-round display by Jan Frylinck, Namibia claimed a 55-run win over their celebrated opponents at Kardinia Park in Geelong.
Sri Lanka won the T20 World Cup back in 2014 and have been ever presents in the competition – as befits their standing in the game. Namibia, though, showed no interest in bowing to status.
Coincidentally, the two sides met at the same stage of the same event in Abu Dhabi last year. Namibia’s win this time around was every bit as comprehensive as the seven-wicket win their opposition had meted out back then.
The initial exchanges suggested little about what was to follow, as Namibia’s top order were kept in check by the Sri Lankans.
There was much anticipation about the arrival to the crease of David Wiese. And rightly so. The Namibia allrounder has played in three successive T20 World Cups now, the first of which was in the green of South Africa.
He is a franchise cricket star, too, and was a PSL winner with Lahore Qalandars earlier this year.
When he came and went for a first-ball duck, the uninitiated might have feared it was game over.
Associate cricket watchers know well, though, that Namibia are anything but dependent on Wiese.
They were 93 for six midway through the 15th over when he went, but Frylinck and JJ Smit muscled 70 from the remaining 33 deliveries of the innings.
Frylinck was run out off the last ball of the innings, having made 44 from 28 balls. Smit, who was an injury doubt before this tournament, blazed two huge sixes in the 31 not out he made in 16 balls.
Having reached 163 for seven from their 20 overs, Namibia already thought they were in the game. When they then reduced their opposition to 21 for three, they were bossing it.
At that point, Bhanuka Rajapaksa – Sri Lanka’s Asia Cup-final hero, emerged to the biggest cheer of the day so far. But the left-hander only just survived an lbw appeal when facing a hat-trick ball from Ben Shikongo.
Shikongo’s first over in T20 World Cup cricket was a double-wicket maiden. His joy was enhanced shortly after, when he caught Dhananjaya de Silva on the boundary rope off Frylinck’s bowling.
Sri Lanka’s slide from that point was terminal. They managed just 108 before they were bowled out with an over to spare.