Namibia has pulled off a huge upset at the 2021 T20 World Cup, defeating Ireland by eight wickets runs on Friday evening to qualify for the Super 12 stage.
The African side chased down a modest target of 126 with nine balls to spare at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, knocking Ireland out of the tournament.
Namibia currently sits at 19th on the ICC Men’s T20I rankings, making it the lowest-ranked side in the entire competition.
It marks the first time Namibia has defeated a Test-playing nation on the international arena and has been touted as the most significant achievement of its cricket history.
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All-rounder Jan Frylinck was Namibia’s standout performer with the ball, claiming three wickets in his four-over spell to help restrict Ireland to 8/125.
Namibian skipper Gerhard Erasmus registered his sixth T20I half-century in the run chase, scoring an unbeaten 53 to guide his side to an unlikely victory.
South Africa-born David Wiese, who represented the Proteas at the 2016 T20 World Cup, contributed 2/22 and 28 not out in a stellar all-round performance.
Having also defeated the Netherlands on Wednesday, Namibia finished second in Group A with two wins from three matches.
They will take on Afghanistan, India, New Zealand, Pakistan and Scotland in the Super 12 stage of the competition.
“We are a small cricketing nation and it means a lot,” Erasmus said.
“It‘s a small country, and a small number of people play cricket. We should be proud of ourselves.
“It hasn‘t sunk in yet, maybe it will on the way home, maybe tomorrow, maybe not until the tournament is over.”
When Namibia was awarded ICC status two years ago, the country only had three full-time contracted players. According to ESPNcricinfo, Namibia only has nine cricket fields and five cricket clubs.
Namibia head coach Pierre de Bruyn said: “It‘s ultimately a dream that’s come true for these players. They were seven or six-year-old boys dreaming of playing against India or Pakistan in a World Cup and it’s happened.
“All they had the last few years until now was to watch these guys on TV and dream about it and they‘re going to wake up in the morning thinking it’s real and I’m just so pleased for them.
“We‘re ecstatic. We’re not an organisation with the luxury of a lot of resources around us. I’ve got 18 players to pick from in my national squad and I know what they’ve put in the last three years.”
Namibia has only competed in an ICC event once before, losing all six games they played in the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Australian great Glenn McGrath infamously claimed seven wickets to help topple Namibia for 45 during the 50-over tournament.
Irish captain Andrew Balburnie said: “It hurts a lot. It is a really tough one to take. It will take a while to go away.
“We probably didn‘t get enough with the start that we got. Namibia outplayed us on the day. The lads are gutted.”
Namibia will next face Scotland at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Cricket Stadium at 1am AEDT on Thursday, October 28.