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Big challenge awaits Namibia as Pakistan in imperious form

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Abu Dhabi, Nov 2 (IANS) Namibia would be aware of the challenges when they take on a charged-up Pakistan in their ICC T20 World Cup ‘Super 12’ game later on Tuesday, knowing well it would be difficult to stop the juggernaut following their crushing victories over India and New Zealand.

While Pakistan are leading Group 2 with six points from three games, Namibia, following their close four-wicket win against Scotland, slumped to a 62-run defeat against Afghanistan and are now fourth on the table with two points from two games.

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Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus, whose side will be facing Pakistan in their maiden T20 game, was honest in his assessment, saying, “We are aware of the challenges. We need to make use of this level. This is a stepping stone for the future.”

Unbeaten so far in the tournament, Pakistan have become one of the favourites in just three games. While bowling has traditionally been Pakistan’s strong point, the batting, led by skipper Babar Azam, has bailed the team out of trouble twice in the last two games.

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Namibia, on the other hand, come into this game on the back of their first loss in the Super 12 to Afghanistan. While it was expected that Namibia would find it difficult to deal with the Afghan spinners, they were rattled by the pacers who claimed seven of the nine wickets on the day.

Namibia will have their task cut out facing the express pace of Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali, who have accumulated 14 of the 21 wickets the 2009 T20 World champions have claimed so far. The spinners too have played their roles, giving little respite to opposition batters.

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For Namibian batting to hold their own against Pakistan, captain Erasmus, David Wiese and JJ Smit will have to make a collective effort.

Pakistan are unlikely to alter their combination that has won them games against India, New Zealand and Afghanistan and put them on top of Group 2.

Namibia are also unlikely to make wholesale changes despite the loss against Afghanistan but could look to strengthen their batting order by bringing back Stephen Baard in place of Pikky Ya France, who has gone wicketless in the tournament so far.

Pakistan can virtually seal a semifinal spot with a win over Namibia, while the Eagles will be looking to pull off an upset, which will keep them in contention for a last-four spot with games against New Zealand and India still remaining.

Possible Pakistan XI: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (captain), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi.

Possible Namibia XI: Stephen Baard, Michael van Lingen, Craig Williams, Gerhard Erasmus (captain), David Wiese, JJ Smit, Zane Green (wk), Jan Frylinck, Nicol Loftie-Eaton, Ruben Trumpelmann, Bernard Scholtz.

–IANS

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