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England beat Namibia in 10-over thrash to keep T20 World Cup hopes alive

England celebrate after beating Namibia (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
England celebrate after beating Namibia (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

England kept their T20 World Cup defence alive in Antigua as they dominated a rain-shorted 10-over thrash against Namibia to put the ball in Scotland’s court.

For three long hours it looked as though the weather would finish the defending champions off, with furious showers hammering the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, but conditions improved enough to spare Jos Buttler’s side a soggy fate and pave the way for a 41-run win.

After a nervy start that saw Buttler bowled for a duck and wily veteran David Wiese take two for six off his two-over spell with the new ball, Harry Brook (47 not out) and Jonny Bairstow (31) threw off the shackles to power England to winning mark of 122 for five.

England’s Harry Brook plays a shot against Namibia
Harry Brook starred with the bat for England (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Chasing 126 on DLS, Namibia were only able to muster 84 for three. They did not go down without making a mark, though, pulling a surprise midway through their pursuit when opener Nikolaas Davin retired out after six overs.

Voluntarily ending his innings to allow the powerful Wiese to take his place, he employed a controversial tactic that has been seen before in the Indian Premier League, but never before at a major international tournament. Wiese improved the scoring briefly but not enough to threaten an upset.

With five points on the board and a superior net run-rate safely banked, it would now take a shock victory for the Scots against Australia in the late match in St Lucia to send England crashing out.

Having waited until 4pm local time to get on the field, England threatened to allow nervous energy to derail them.

Rain delays the start of World Cup match between England and Namibia
Rain delayed the start of the match (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

Wiese, the 39-year-old veteran and county cricket stalwart, gave up just one off his first over and five from his second, snapping up Phil Salt’s outside edge with a sumptuous slower ball along the way.

At the other end, the big left-armer Ruben Trumpelmann toppled Buttler’s off stump for nought via a big deflecting off the front pad.

It fell to the Yorkshire pair of Bairstow and Brook, both promoted a place in the absence of the dropped Will Jacks, to right the ship.

Bairstow got things moving by reverse-sweeping Bernard Scholtz for four then slamming his next delivery for a straight six, but was fortunate to see a thin edge go down on 15.

Emboldened, England took 13 off the sixth over and 17 from the seventh, Brook quick to find his timing as he deposited Durham’s Jack Brassell for six over long-on then carved the teenager through point. Bairstow, not to be outdone, pulled Gerhard Erasmus hard and flat over midwicket.

A 56-run stand raised the rate past 10 an over but the momentum was checked again. Bairstow survived a run out chance thanks to Erasmus’ scruffy take at the bowler’s end but was soon on his way as he skied one straight up in the air.

Another short rain break turned what had been slated as an 11-over match into a 10-per-side clash, with England taking full advantage of their last two overs as they blazed another 40.

Brook worked the gaps expertly, ramping Brassell for four over his shoulder twice either side of a powerful smash that cleared the extra-cover boundary by 20 yards, while Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone added two sixes apiece.

England were firm favourites at the change over, a position Reece Topley cemented as he gave up just six runs from his two powerplay overs.

Michael van Lingen flailed Jofra Archer for six and four despite appearing deeply uncomfortable against his pace, but the reply was slipping well behind as Namibia reached 34 by the halfway stage.

Davin hit Chris Jordan for one handy six but was not getting the job done and fell on his sword after making 18 from 16 balls. Namibia had waited long enough to unleash their power-hitter, Wiese, and bent the rules to bring him out despite not losing a wicket.

He did not disappoint, drilling Sam Curran for four off his first ball then smashing back-to-back sixes off Adil Rashid’s leg-spin.

Even so, the equation had long since spiralled out of control and he was departed for a spirited 27 off 12 balls as Archer closed out the final over.