The Namibian cricket team has become the first Africa Region team to book a spot at the 2024 T20 World Cup.
They sealed their qualification on Tuesday with a 58-run win over Tanzania – it was the hosts’ fifth win in as many games.
With this, Namibia have qualified for their third T20 World Cup overall, and their third in a row. The basis of Namibia’s victory on Tuesday was an unbeaten 25-ball 40 from JJ Smit, who ensured they maintained their momentum through the second half of their innings despite losing four wickets in the space of five overs.
Steady contributions from the top three had taken Namibia to 77 for 2 in the 11th over after they had been sent in, but by the 16th over they had slumped to 113 for 5.
Smit, who came in at No. 4, saw to it that they finished strongly, adding 44 off the last 27 balls of the innings with the support of Zane Green and Jan Nicol Loftie-Eaton.
Chasing 158, Tanzania never got going. They slipped to 17 for 2 by the fourth over, after which they lost wickets steadily at one end while Amal Rajeevan scored an unbeaten 41 off 45 balls at the other. They finished on 99 for 6. Gerhard Erasmus was Namibia’s most successful bowler with figures of 2 for 17 from his four overs.
After playing five games, Namibia are clear leaders in the Africa Region points table with 10 points. Uganda and Kenya, who have each played four games and won three, are in second and third place, while Zimbabwe are in fourth with two wins and two losses.
Zimbabwe, the only Full Member out of the seven teams in the tournament, kept their qualification hopes alive with a 144-run win over Rwanda.
They needed a big win to stay in contention after losing two of their first three games – to Namibia and Uganda – and they got it with their captain Sikandar Raza leading from the front.
Raza opened the batting and scored a 36-ball 58; this innings, allied to Tadiwanashe Marumani’s 31-ball 50 and Ryan Burl’s unbeaten 21-ball 44, helped Zimbabwe pile up 215 for 4 after they were sent in to bat. Zimbabwe’s bowlers then got to work, with Richard Ngarava taking three wickets in his first three overs to help reduce Rwanda to 15 for 5.
Didier Ndikubwimana (30) and Martin Akayezu (17) then put on 48 to lend some respectability to their score, but the lower order collapsed thereafter, as Rwanda were bowled out for 71 with Raza picking up 3 for 3 in 2.4 overs.