Sri Lanka and the Netherlands both progressed to the Super 12 stage of the Men’s T20 World Cup following a thrilling conclusion to Group A.
They finished first and second in the group respectively to qualify for the next stage of games, starting on 22 October.
It was the UAE’s first ever win in the T20 World Cup, in only their second tournament.
Some inconsistent bowling from Namibia allowed UAE to score a competitive 148-3, with opener Muhammad Waseem top-scoring with 50 from 41 balls.
The Netherlands players who stayed in the ground watched in anticipation as Namibia then slipped to 69-7, before David Wiese’s heroic 55 from 36 balls dragged them back.
But needing 14 from the final over, Wiese holed out to long-on to hand UAE an unexpected win – and the Netherlands an unexpected qualification.
In the earlier game, Kusal Mendis’ 79 from 44 balls propelled Sri Lanka to 162-6 – the right-hander smashing five sixes in his match-winning innings.
Max O’Dowd’s entertaining 71 not out from 53 balls kept Netherlands in the game throughout their innings but they fell 16 runs short and were left nervously waiting for the second game to be completed.
Sri Lanka qualify in first position meaning they join England, Afghanistan, Australia and New Zealand in Super 12 Group A, while Netherlands will face India, Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh in Super 12 Group B.
Both groups will see one more team join them, on completion of the first-round’s Group B, with Scotland and Ireland both hoping to qualify in Friday’s matches.
Namibia were firm favourites to join Sri Lanka in the Super 12 stage, as they did in 2021. They had shocked Sri Lanka in the first game of the tournament and UAE were yet to register a win.
Their bowlers started well, restricting the UAE to just 30 runs from the six-over powerplay, before it unravelled.
Opener Waseem’s half-century anchored the innings before captain CP Rizwan and Basil Hameed capitalised on some loose bowling in the death overs.
Rizwan finished unbeaten on 43 from 29 balls and Hameed 25 not out from 14 balls as they reached 148-3, a competitive score that was more than Namibia were expecting to chase.
The UAE needed their bowlers to back up the batting effort, which they did brilliantly.
Hameed added two wickets to his cameo with the bat, and seamer Zahoor Khan put in a stellar performance to take 2-20 from his four overs.
From 46-5 and then 69-7, Namibia looked gone, while the Netherlands’ players were pictured grinning in the stands.
But Wiese and Ruben Trumpelmann, who finished with 25 not out, smashed 70 runs in seven overs to completely shift the momentum.
It was all going Namibia’s way as UAE’s inexperienced bowlers produced wides, fielding errors and dropped Wiese on 35.
But eventual player of the match Waseem took the match-winning wicket in the final over as Wiese attempted one six too many, Alishan Sharafu taking a smart catch on the boundary to secure UAE’s historic win.
Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup in September but their World Cup campaign started disastrously with a shock defeat to Namibia.
But in a must-win game to secure their place in the next stage, they responded to the pressure impressively.
The Netherlands’ bowlers dominated initially, restricting Sri Lanka to just 36 runs from the opening six-over powerplay.
That soon became 36-2 as Paul van Meekeren took two wickets in two balls, bowling opener Pathum Nissanka for 14 before trapping Dhananjaya de Silva lbw for a golden duck.
But Mendis stood in their way. A partnership of 60 for the third wicket with Charith Asalanka rebuilt the innings to allow him to accelerate – Sri Lanka adding 102 from the final 10 overs.
His innings of 79 came to an end in the final over and set up an imposing total for the Netherlands to chase.
Max O’Dowd, however, had other ideas.
The opener batted through the innings, watching wickets tumble around him until a disastrous 19th over from Maheesh Theekshana conceded 16 runs to leave Netherlands needing 23 from the final six balls with one wicket remaining.
At the other end, Roelof van der Merwe was hampered by a back injury, barely able to run or swing the bat.
But Kumara held his nerve, conceding seven runs from the over and leaving a deflated O’Dowd unbeaten on 71, a remarkable innings without which the Netherlands would have subsided.