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T20 World Cup 2021 | It's been a surreal campaign, will play with freedom against India, says Namibia’s Stephen Baard

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Namibia will play their last Super 12s game against India on Monday

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T20 World Cup 2021 | It's been a surreal campaign, will play with freedom against India, says Namibia’s Stephen Baard

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SportsCafe Desk

11/06/2021

Namibia opener Stephen Baard labelled his team T20 World Cup 2021 campaign as "surreal", and stated that the team will play with freedom against India in their last game of the tournament in Dubai on Monday. Namibia had qualified for the Super 12s stage after an impressive show in Round 1.

Namibia, in their T20 World Cup participation, were slotted alongside Sri Lanka, Ireland and Netherlands in Group A of the Qualifiers Round 1. They registered impressive wins against Ireland and Netherlands to storm into the Super 12s. They defeated Scotland first up in Super 12s, before going down to full-members Afghanistan, Pakistan and New Zealand thereafter.

The Gerhard Earamus led side is now out of the semifinal race, and opener Stephen Baard eyes the last match against India as an opportunity for the players to express themselves. 

"It gives us the chance to play with freedom," said Baard. "That's the big one. It's a big group and every game is a big game, but to finish off with the India team? It's something to look forward to. It's something that a couple of months ago, you didn't even think about, so yeah - we're looking forward to that one.

"It's been absolutely massive. We've enjoyed every single minute of it. We want to compete, we're here to compete, but in the same sense, we want to learn as much as possible. We want to see what these guys do on and off the field and up until this point, it's been surreal.

The opening batsman added that it is tough to learn in a short space during a tournament like this. 

"It gives us the opportunity to express ourselves a little bit more, Baard said. "We're used to playing in qualifiers where every game is almost a do or die type game. Here, the intensity is so much different to what we're used to and the discipline is so much better than what we're used to but it's a great learning experience.

"It is tough, I'll be honest about that. It is tough to learn in a short space of time in between games when you only have two or three days in between. To execute your plans and talk about different approaches to different players at this level, it can be quite tough, but it's a great experience and it's great to be part of it. Going forward, I know we're going to the World Cup next year as well, so it's something that we need to work on for the next 12 months."

Namibia had showed sparks of brilliance against Pakistan earlier this week, which promted appreciations from the opposition camp. They were in control for a major part of first half against New Zealand on Friday, before late blitz from Glenn Phillips and Jimmy Neesham titled the game's balance. Baard admitted that New Zealand adding 67 runs in the last four overs took the game away from his team, and hoped for improvement on that front going forward.

"On the bowling front, it will definitely be about executing certain plans, especially on a field where the one side is a lot bigger than the other," Baard said. "The big part from the batting side will just be to see how they execute at the back end. That's one of the things I spoke about along with their batters next to the field - how they change it up in the last four or five overs and where their options would be."

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