By Victor Kanayo
Pre-tournament favourites Zimbabwe and Tanzania put the writing clear on the wall with dominant displays enroute to wins on Matchday One of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier in Uganda.
Zimbabwe made Kenya pay heavily for any lapse with a commanding 62-run victory in the event’s opening fixture at the lakeside Entebbe Cricket Oval, whereas Tanzania proved too much for Botswana as they cruised to a huge 10-wicket win under perfect weather conditions.
Zimbabwe Strong Start
The Lady Chevrons, having been asked to bat first, lost their captain Mary-Ann Musonda (4) in the first over and could have been in more trouble only to be let off by Kenya’s feeble fielding.
From a point when they could have been four down inside the early overs, Chipo Tiripano Mugeri rode her luck as she smacked three boundaries and one six down the ground in her power-packed innings of 31 runs off 17 balls.
When she fell at 51 for 3 in 7 overs, Zimbabwe suffered a setback when teenage sensation Kelis Ndhlovu (1) retired hurt after running into Kenyan bowler Queentor Abel and falling awkwardly.
Player of the Match Josephine Nkomo stayed resolute with 26 runs off 28 balls – surviving close calls and tricky situations as the Southern Africans sought to set a meaningful total.
However, it was Zimbabwe’s fortuitous escape and Kenya’s butter fingers that defined the first innings. Missed catches and fumbles in the field allowed Zimbabwe to capitalize on opportunities, ultimately setting a challenging total of 111 for 7 in 20 overs.
Kenya, in their pursuit of the target, faced early setbacks as they collapsed to a dismal 23 runs for the loss of 8 wickets inside nine overs. The Kenyan team struggled to form any meaningful partnerships, and Zimbabwe’s bowlers, led by Loreen Tshuma’s impressive 3 for 14, took full advantage of the situation.
Despite Kenya’s late resistance, a ninth-wicket partnership of 24 runs between Mercy Sifuna (9) and Charity Muthoni (10), they were outclassed in all departments and succumbed to a 62 run defeat. Extras emerged as the top scorer for Kenya with 11 runs, as they ultimately crawled to 49 all out in 15.4 overs.
Zimbabwe will be happy that they got their campaign underway with victory and thus two points in the bag but coach Gary Brent knows the machine didn’t look well-oiled and will demand more when they return on Matchday Three for a date against Botswana.
Tanzania show true potential
In the other Group A match, Tanzania showed a glimpse of what they’re made of and their ambitions at this event that has two tickets at stake to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Global Qualifier in Dubai next year.
There was no luck at the toss for new Tanzania captain Pius Justine Neema but there were no problems with how things panned out after Botswana skipper Laura Mophakedi asked them to bowl first.
Despite giving away a marginal 20 runs in extras, Tanzania’s bowlers were still too much for the Southern Africans restricting them to 75 runs all out in 19.2 overs.
Tanzania will look to build on that victory when they return on Monday December 11, 2023 for their clash against neighbouring foes Kenya.