T20 World Cup 2021: Namibia’s big challenge against in-form Pakistan

Pakistan will face Namibia in a Super 12 contest in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday in a bid to top Group 2 and seal its semifinal berth at the ICC Twenty20 World Cup.

Babar Azam’s men have barely put a foot wrong, and they come into this fixture riding on a hat-trick of wins. Meanwhile, after notching up three consecutive wins against Netherlands, Ireland and Scotland, Namibia lost to Afghanistan on Sunday by 62 runs.

It has been a historic run for Namibia, which is playing in its first T20 World Cup. But it can anticipate tough challenges from hereon. Its next opponent, Pakistan, has won 14 T20Is in a row in the UAE. Its bowling looks like a well-oiled machine that is firing on all cylinders.

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The batters have exuded confidence too. Babar’s clinical fifty against Afghanistan in the last match followed by Asif Ali’s match-winning four sixes in the 19th over have reaffirmed Pakistan’s status as the tournament favourite. Shoaib Malik hailed the team’s winning streak on Monday. “To see consistency in Pakistan dressing room, that’s the biggest thing for me so far,” Malik said. “Everyone’s helping each other. And it’s a team game. When you’re playing a team game, then you need your teammates’ help. You need a lot of support from your management. And I see all of that coming.”

For Namibia, the top three of Craig Williams, Michael van Lingen and Nicol Loftie-Eaton will look to shore up their shot selection after falling swinging across the line against Afghanistan. JJ Smit and David Wiese’s skills will hold a key place too.

The surface in Abu Dhabi will aid the spinners, and the long boundaries will be the fielding team’s favourite. Loftie-Eaton’s leg-spin could come in handy.

These two sides have never played a T20I against each other before. Their only meeting was during the 2003 50-over World Cup in South Africa, where Pakistan beat Namibia by 171 runs.

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