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02 February 201612:31 By Manoj Narayan, Cox’s Bazar

Rampant Bangladesh U19 tops Group A

Spinners help host brush Namibia U19 aside and set up quarter-final date with Nepal U19

Rampant Bangladesh U19 tops Group A
 - Cricket News

Bangladesh opted to field first, bundled Namibia out for just 65 in 32.5 overs and proceeded to wrap up the chase in 16 overs.

There is one positive Namibia Under-19 will take from its eight-wicket loss to Bangladesh Under-19 in its final Group A clash on Tuesday (February 2). If it had any doubt as to the magnitude of the task awaiting it in the quarterfinal of the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2016, this absolute hammering, at the Sheikh Kamal International Cricket Stadium, would have given it a very good indication of the arduous road ahead.

Bangladesh opted to field first, bundled Namibia out for just 65 in 32.5 overs and proceeded to wrap up the chase in 16 overs, with Joyraz Sheik (34 off 55) and Nazmul Hossain Shanto (14 off 23) taking the team through after an early stutter. The victory ensured it would face Nepal Under-19 in a last-eight clash in Mirpur on Friday. It also meant Namibia would face the daunting task of toppling heavy-roller India Under-19 in Fatullah on Saturday.

Namibia just couldn’t handle the Bangladeshi spinners. In all, seven wickets fell to spin as Saleh Ahmed Shawon (2/10) and Ariful Islam (2/9), the left-arm spinners, and Mehedi Hasan (2/12), the offspinner, built pressure and decisively chipped away at the wickets. Pressure also meant Namibia was hesitant and constantly doubted itself or was hurried into needless risks, resulting in two run outs.

Adding to the whole atmosphere of pressure was the crowd. Namibia was given a thorough reminder of which the home team was here. Among the sizeable crowd was one who had his body painted all over in tiger-skin colours, who went around growling all over the place.

Namibia struggled for runs right from the outset. The first run was off a wide, and it took it three overs to get the first convincing runs, SJ Loftie-Eaton pushing Abdul Halim firmly through midwicket for the perfect four, one that teased the fielders all the way to the boundary.

However, Bangladesh had the breakthrough in the next over when Lofie-Eaton pushed at one outside offstump from Mohammad Saifuddin, and Nazmul took a stunner at gully. It was the start of the procession.

The second dismissal could have been avoided. Zane Taylor attempted to rush a single after the fielder threw down the stumps when he was safely in and the ball rebounded away. However, Zakir Hasan, the wicketkeeper, effected a direct hit at the other end with Taylor well short.

Niko Davin and Lohan Louwrens then attempted to baulk the bowlers in what was Namibia’s most significant partnership. It lasted 7.3 overs, and yielded 27 runs, both batsmen realising the need to keep their wickets intact. Bangladesh, however, made it difficult for even the singles to be milked. Its fielding was positively electric – no inch was given, and no run conceded easily. The struggle to get the scoreboard moving heaped the pressure on the batsmen. There was relief from the occasional loose deliveries – Davin did drive and cut a couple to the boundary – but those were few and far between.

The spinners then arrived to restrict the run-flow further. The batsmen were struggling to read the spinners, and soon, the breakthrough arrived. Davin (19 off 32) misread one off Shawon and in his attempt to cut a back of length delivery, allowed the ball to skid through to the stumps. Two overs later, Hasan trapped Michael van Lingen in front, and Namibia was 42 for 4.

But as wickets fell at one end, Louwrens cut a lone, desolate figure at the other. There was much to admire about him. He was the hero against South Africa, and you could see why. All of 16, he played with composure and maturity. He was constantly communicating with his partners, gesturing to them to calm their nerves, even as they rushed out for every run. He was quick to gauge the delicacy of the situation.

For all his efforts, the flow of wickets wasn’t to be abated. Jurgen Linde was trapped in front by Shawon for his second wicket, his feet getting tied up against a length delivery, before Louwrens himself fell to a sudden faster, fuller one from Ariful. He was bowled for a 52-ball 17, and the rest of the line-up was packed off, four wickets falling for six runs.

In its chase, Bangladesh met with a very determined bunch. Despite the paltry total, Namibia put in an energetic display with the ball, and didn’t allow Bangladesh to race away. It had Pinak Ghosh caught at point for nought early on off Fritz Coetzee, who followed that up by having Saif Hassan caught behind.

However, once Sheik and Nazmul dug deep and saw off the initial pressure, there was little Namibia could do. The third-wicket pair ploughed away and rotated strike to diminish the target, Sheik at times cutting and driving away to the ropes. Victory was soon achieved, Sheik putting one away through the covers to bring up the winning runs with minimum fuss.

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