Photo credit: Peter Della Penna
Man of the Match Steven Taylor once again showcased his all-round brilliance, taking 4 for 23 and scoring 43 in USA's chase of a target of 122 to guide USA to a five-wicket win over Namibia.
By Peter Della Penna in Lauderhill, Florida (Twitter @PeterDellaPenna)
Steven Taylor seized on a Namibia lineup packed with left-handed batsmen to claim 4 for 23 before top-scoring with 43 in USA’s chase of a target of 122 to defeat Namibia by five wickets with 18.4 overs to spare on Tuesday at the Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida. The win took USA to 2-0 in their first tri-series of Cricket World Cup League Two.
Namibia won the toss and elected to bat first under clear skies but were under heavy pressure in the opening overs from new ball pair Saurabh Netravalkar and Jessy Singh. Netravalkar struck with his fourth ball, getting Stephen Baard to drag on and from there the captain continued with relentless consistency on a good length, stringing together 17 dot balls to start off his spell before a boundary from Karl Birkenstock broke the streak to end the fifth over at 5 for 1. Jessy Singh had been doing good work at tying down the opposite end before bowling a pair of no balls in the sixth over, the second of which led to a free hit struck for six over long-on by JP Kotze to get Namibia’s innings unstuck.
Taylor was brought on in the 11th and produced a double-wicket maiden to put USA back in command at 35 for 3 and they never relinquished control of the match. The first wicket was fortuitous as a shin high full toss was swept by Kotze straight to Elmore Hutchinson at short fine leg, who took an athletic catch lunging low to his right to dismiss Kotze for 17. Namibia captain Gerhard Erasmus was bowled four balls later going back to defend a quicker ball.
The score was 51 for 3 after 15 overs at drinks at which stage USA bowled nothing but spin for the rest of the innings on a slow track. Timil Patel struck with his fourth ball after play resumed, bowling Craig Williams for 10. Karima Gore came on from the opposite end in the 19th and struck with his fifth ball, getting Christi Viljoen to edge to Xavier Marshall at slip for 2, then dislodged Birkenstock for 32 in his next over beating an attempted sweet to win an lbw appeal making it 70 for 6 in the 21st.
Namibia’s lineup altered their strategy from this point forward, blocking through the next 10 overs in an effort to stretch the innings out. USA applied pressure with the regular use of a fielder under a helmet putting in silly mid-off for left-handers and forward short leg for right-hand batsmen while also keeping just two fielders outside the ring. JJ Smit’s resistance finally ended in the 32nd when he edged Timil behind to Jaskaran Malhotra for 8 to make it 89 for 7.
Taylor was then reintroduced into the attack and bowled Jan Frylinck playing back to a good length ball for 2 to spark drinks at 98 for 8 in the 35th. The USA vice-captain then took his fourth of the day in the 41st when Zhivago Groenewald drove a catch to Monank Patel at short extra cover. Zane Green scored 15 off the final 17 runs in a last-wicket stand with Bernard Scholtz before Green chopped onto his stumps to give Nisarg Patel the final wicket as Namibia were bowled out for 121 in 46 overs. Aside from Taylor’s innings-best figures, Timil and Gore contributed fine spells with 10-4-25-2 and 9-3-15-2 respectively.
Had Namibia been able to get to 150 or 160, it might have been a challenging effort for the hosts to chase down as their Powerplay mirrored Namibia’s struggles. Outside of two boundaries struck over the leg side by Malhotra off Smit in the second over, the opening pair could not get the ball away as Namibia piled on dot-ball pressure with sharp fielding in the ring. It finally resulted in the wicket of Malhotra, who slogged Groenewald’s left-arm spin flat to Williams at short midwicket for 13.
Marshall’s crisis of confidence from the tour of Bermuda in August has not stopped in Florida. After beginning with 7 off 34 balls, he drove Groenewald straight down the ground for his first six before being bowled with a quicker, full delivery next ball to make it 33 for 2 in the 12th.
In spite of some aggressive field settings with a leg-slip and forward short leg in place, Taylor and Monank steadied USA’s innings on the spinning track with a 68-run third-wicket stand. Monank was put down twice on 7 and 15 on a pair of difficult chances, once by the wicketkeeper Green standing up to Frylinck’s medium pace and the other a low diving effort by Erasmus at extra cover off a scorching drive that would’ve given Scholtz a wicket. Taylor batted intelligently using the wind to his advantage, driving Groenewald once and then Scholtz twice over long-on for a trio of sixes.
Taylor’s innings finally ended when he drove Birkenstock’s medium pace to Williams at short extra cover to give the 23-year-old his maiden ODI wicket in the 26th. Namibia should have had two wickets in the space of four balls when Aaron Jones got into a mixup with Monank on a ball pushed to short midwicket. Replays later showed that Monank was three yards short when the bails came off at the non-striker’s end but umpire Jacqueline Williams ruled Monank not out on 24 over doubts as to whether Groenewald had knocked off the bails before collecting the relay from Frylinck.
With USA just one shot away from victory, two more wickets fell to make the scoreline look more competitive. Jones walked through an flick across the line to be stumped off Scholtz for 8 before Gore went too deep in his stumps trying to flick what might have been the winning two and instead stepped on his stumps to be out hit wicket for 3. Monank eventually ended the match with a two driven wide of mid-off to finish 30 not out. Groenewald finished with solid figures to lead Namibia in the field with 3 for 28 in nine overs.
USA has an off day on Wednesday before taking on Papua New Guinea on Thursday. Namibia has two rest days before their next rematch against USA on Friday at the Central Broward Regional Park.