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Sandri heroics deliver victory for Italy

All-rounder scores 34 and takes 2 for 12 as Italy pips Namibia by 25 runs
Carl Sandri’s all-round effort helped Italy register a comfortable 25-run win over Namibia in the ninth place play-off match of the ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium Nursery 2 in Abu Dhabi on Thursday (November 28).
Sandri hit 34 off 35 balls, top-scoring in Italy’s 130 for 9, and then picked up 2 for 12 in four overs as Namibia was restricted to 105 all out in 19.4 overs. Both teams were already out of the running for a spot in the ICC World Twenty20 2014, but Sandri’s heroics helped Italy end on a high.
Namibia’s batsmen floundered in the chase, with early strikes reducing the side to 39 for 4 in the ninth over. Gerhard Erasmus, who came in at No.6, remained unbeaten on 28 and mounted a recovery of sorts with Nicolaas Scholtz, putting on 40 runs for the fifth wicket. But once Scholtz fell for 25, Namibia’s resistance ended.
Gareth Berg, the right-arm medium-pacer, finished things off with a hat-trick, taking the last three wickets to fall to end with 3 for 12 in 3.4 overs.
Sandri had accounted for the crucial wickets of Scholtz and Sarel Burger, the Namibia captain, and said it felt nice to finish the tournament with a good win. “It is great to contribute in our last match, but just the whole team performance – winning in the last match for us of the tournament – is a pretty good effort. It has been a long tour for us and just to finish off with a decent performance feels good,” he said. 
Sandri also expressed satisfaction with his own showing. “I am glad I could contribute. We have tournaments where you don’t necessarily do as well as you like. Hopefully, I could contribute and do my bit, but I always like to do more, and finishing ninth is a good result for us. Hopefully we could have finished higher but we will take this.”
Gayashan Munasinghe was also among the wickets for Italy, taking 2 for 30. 
Earlier, Italy got off to a quick start after electing to bat first, with Berg and Andy Northcote adding 33 for the opening wicket in 3.3 overs. However, both Berg and Peter Petricola fell to Christi Viljoen off consecutive deliveries. Damian Crowley, the captain, then joined Northcote for a 29-run stand, and after Northcote fell he added another 29 runs with Sandri before falling for a run-a-ball 32.
Sandri was dismissed in the 19th over, but he ensured Italy would have a competitive total.
Bernard Scholtz finished as Namibia’s best bowler, taking 2 for 14 in four overs. Louis van der Westhuizen and Viljoen also picked up two wickets apiece. 
Crowley credited his team’s bowling effort and praised Gareth for his hat-trick. 
“lt was a great effort by Gareth to get that hat-trick, but it was an overall good performance from the team to finish at ninth in the tournament,” he said. “We obviously came in ranked lower than this, so it was great to fight out against some high-performing teams and a good effort by the team in the end.”
Crowley added that Italy would take a lot of positives from the tournament. “Barring steady performances from Carl Sandri and Gareth Berg we also had a new player in Dilan Fernando in the squad who bowled really well and he has got a bright future ahead in Italian cricket.”
Meanwhile Burger said he was disappointed with Namibia’s tenth-place finish. “It is bit of a disappointment,” he said. “Obviously in the previous one we ended up third and we were hoping to do the same in this tournament but it did not go that way. But there is a long way to go for us and positives to take from this tournament. A few young guys came along and actually did well so at the end of the day it is not all lost. We have a 50-over tournament in the near future so we are looking forward to that now.”
Burger said losing quick wickets at the start of the innings proved to be difficult to recover from. “When you lose wickets upfront it puts a lot of pressure on the batsmen coming down in the middle order and the tail. Today once again and like our previous few games we lost couple of wickets too early which put pressure too early in the chase for us to make things difficult,” he said.

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