Eagles back in action against Punjab 

Junior Kariata has been called up to the senior Namibian cricket team. Photo: Helge Schütz

The Richelieu Namibia Eagles will be back in action for the first time since the T20 World Cup when they host a powerful Indian Punjab Cricket Association team in a five-match 50-over series, starting at the Wanderers field today.

The Castle Lite Series will serve as preparation for the Cricket World Cup League 2 tournament which continues with a tri-nations series in Scotland against the hosts and Nepal at the end of July, which is a qualifying tournament for the 2027 Cricket World Cup that Namibia will host along with South Africa and Zimbabwe. 

It is the second year in a row that Namibia will play a strong Indian team, following the tour of Karnataka last year, who beat Namibia 3-2 in a 50-over series and national coach Pierre de Bruyn yesterday said it will be a tough series.

“Punjab have a top-quality side with a number of players who play in the Indian Premier League. I’d say it’s an even better side than the Karnataka team from last year and I’m excited to see how we will match up against a quality side like this,” he said.

“We are preparing for an ODI series in Scotland at the end of the month so it’s important to create opportunities for fringe and high performance players. I’m determined to give opportunities to some of the young players to see how they fare against a quality side and to guage how close they are to the national side,” he added. 

Gerhard Erasmus will once again captain the Eagles which includes several T20 World Cup stars like JJ Smit, Ruben Trumpelmann, Michael van Lingen, Zane Green, Ben Shikongo and Tangeni Lungameni, but several up-and-coming youngsters have also been called up. They include Alex Volschenk, Zacheo van Vuuren and Junior Kariata, who all represented Namibia at the u19 World Cup in South Africa in February, as well as the exciting coastal pace bowler Max Heingo. 

“Max is a young fast bowler from the coast who has come through the High Performance system that’s run by national u19 coach Oscar Nauhaus. He’s very exciting with raw talent and I’m keen to develop him further,” De Bruyn said. 

The Punjab Cricket Association squad includes several IPL players as well as some of India’s top young talents. 

Some of their top batters include Naman Dhir of the Mumbai Indians; Ramandeep Singh of the Kolkota Knight Riders; Nehal Wadhere of the Mumbai Indians; Anmolpreet Singh of Hyderabad Sunrisers; Prabhsimran Singh of Punjab Kings; and Uday Pratap Saharan who captained India at the u19 World Cup in February, where he was the tournament’s top batter, scoring 397 runs at an average of 56,71.

Their top bowlers include pace bowlers Gurnoor Brar, who opens the bowling for the Punjab Kings; Sanvir Singh of Sunrisers Hyderabad; and Aradhya Shukla, who played for India at the u19 World Cup; and the spinners Harpreet Brar of the Chennai Super Kings, and Mayank Markande of the Sunrisers Hyderabad. 

Regarding Namibia’s performances at the recently concluded T20 World Cup, De Bruyn said he was disappointed with the Scotland defeat.

“Our main targets were to beat Oman and Scotland, so we achieved one by beating Oman, but I’m really disappointed that we lost to Scotland, especially since it was the first time that they had beaten us in a T20 international,” he said. 

“Australia and England were always going to be tough, but I was happy with our batting performance against England,” he added.

The Castle Lite Series will be held at the Wanderers ground with five matches scheduled for 3, 5, 7, 9 and 10 July. All matches start at 09h30. 

The Richelieu Namibia Eagles squad is as follows:

Malan Kruger, Lohan Louwrens, Michael van Lingen, Gerhard Erasmus, JC Balt, Dylan Leicher, PD Blignaut, Junior Kariata, Ben Shikongo, Tangeni Lungameni, Ruben Trumpelmann, Jan Frylinck, JJ Smit, Zacheo van Vuuren, Shaun Fouche, Max Heingo, Zane Green, Alex Volschenk.

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