The final qualifier for next year's men's T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA began today in Windhoek, with hosts Namibia getting their campaign off to a fine start with a convincing win over full member Zimbabwe.
Home team captain Gerhard Erasmus won the toss and chose to bowl first at the Wanderers Ground. The only contributions of note for the visitors came from Craig Ervine (36), Sikandar Raza (20) and Ryan Burl (21 not out) as they were kept to 132-8 from their 20 overs. JJ Smit was the pick of the Namibian bowlers with 3-24.
Namibian openers Michael van Lingen and Niko Davin got off to a flyer with an 88 run partnership before the former fell for 30 from the last ball of the eighth over. Davin stayed in and scored 89 from 45 balls before he was out in the 14th over. The chase was completed in the next over with Namibia winning by seven wickets with 5.2 overs to spare.
Whilst Zimbabwe have had their toughest match first up and in theory should beat the other five participating teams, those other five teams will now no doubt be a little more confident at springing a surprise over the lone full member in the tournament and taking one of two spots on offer in next year's World Cup.
Earlier on the same ground, Tanzania were put into bat by Ugandan captain Brian Masaba and were restricted to 99-7 from their 20 overs. Rizat Ali Shah then scored an unbeaten 47 from only 27 balls as Uganda completed an eight wicket win with 4.4 overs to spare.
At the United Ground in the morning session, Kenya were put into bat by Rwandan captain Clinton Rubagumya. Collins Obuya, a survivor from Kenya's famous 2003 World Cup campaign scored 50 but was outscored by Irfan Karim - son of Aasif Karim who played in that World Cup - who contributed an unbeaten 63 in the Kenyan total of 154-2.
Orchide Tuyisenge top scored for Rwanda in their reply with 56, and helped his team get close to the Kenyan target, even if they were never really a serious threat to chase it down. They made 137-4 from their 20 overs, losing by 17 runs.
Nigeria play their first tournament match tomorrow when they take on Kenya in the morning session, followed by Tanzania's first ever official men's match against Zimbabwe in the afternoon.