Scotland’s hopes of automatic qualification for next year’s T20 World Cup were dealt a crushing blow yesterday when they crashed to defeat against Namibia at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
Having recovered from an opening day loss to Singapore with wins against Kenya and Papua New Guinea, the Scots had little margin for error in their bid to finish top of their seven-team group.
But, after yesterday’s 24-run loss, it looks certain they will be forced to go through the play-offs to claim one of the four places available at the global tournament in Australia.
Needing 160 for victory, the Scots suffered the worst possible start when Craig Wallace, deputising for skipper Kyle Coetzer, was out in the first over. Coetzer was still suffering the effects of dehydration following his match-winning half-century against Papua New Guinea 24 hours earlier and the absence of the free-scoring opener was a big blow.
Worse followed when big-hitting George Munsey was run out for 11 before Calum MacLeod and stand-in captain Richie Berrington offered a glimmer of hope with a partnership of 48
However, neither of the experienced duo could dominate a bowling attack who always held the upper-hand.
Berrington was out for 23 from one delivery more and, while MacLeod went on to top-score with 39, he had little support from the middle and lower order. At one stage, four wickets fell for just 13 runs in three overs.
There was some spirited late hitting from Josh Davey and Safyaan Sharif but it was too little, too late as they closed on 135-8.
Namibia, having earlier elected to bat, looked anything but a side low on morale following back-to-back defeats as they recovered from the loss of three early wickets to post a challenging 159-6.
Davey, fresh from his last-over heroics against PNG, made the breakthrough when he had Stephen Baard caught by Mark Watt.
Watt got in on the act when he trapped JP Kotze lbw, while Hamza Tahir removed the dangerous Niko Davin for 23 to have the Namibians struggling on 46-3.
However, Scotland were frustrated by the experienced Craig Williams, who shared partnerships of 49 with Gerhard Erasmus and 52 with JJ Smit.
Williams, who contributed a valuable 31, was content to let his partners have the bulk of the strike, Erasmus hitting 37 from 26 balls, while Smit was even more punishing, top-scoring with a 22-ball 43.
His effort included four big sixes as the Scottish bowlers toiled. Tahir was the most economical with 1-18 while Davey claimed 2-29.
Scotland will bid to bounce back when they take on Bermuda tomorrow.