Familiar foes go toe-to-toe in Botswana today, with Zimbabwe and Namibia playing off in the final of the Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier.
An automatic spot at the upcoming Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier is on the line in Gaborone, in a match promising fireworks.
Both unbeaten in their respective groups, the pair were only pushed in semi-final play. In semi-final one, Zimbabwe defended 108 in a stellar bowling performance, while Namibia were pushed to the end by Tanzania, chasing a target of 90 with two wickets and two balls to spare.
The meeting is a rematch of the 2019 Final, where Zimbabwe were emphatic winners on home soil at the Harare Sports Club. Set 115 for victory, the visitors lost early wickets and struggled to recover, falling 50 runs short. Despite the defeat, Namibia went on to represent Africa at the global Qualifier after Zimbabwe Cricket was suspended.
Namibia return as a stronger collective unit at this year’s final, though their strength still lies in their bowling and fielding. Holding on to a four-run victory in a defence of 105 in their first match against Uganda, the Namibians have stuck to a similar game plan throughout the tournament, with four bowlers taking six wickets or more across their five outings. Wilka Mwatile has been the spearhead, taking nine wickets at 6.22, going for a miserly 3.11 runs per over.
To beat a strongly-fancied Zimbabwe though, Namibia’s top order must fire. Saved by skipper Irene van Zyl’s 23 in their two wicket semi-final win batting at six, Yasmeen Khan, likely to bat at three, holds the key. Above Khan, the opening pair of Adri van der Merwe and Sune Wittman have the opportunity to put Namibia on the front foot, with Kayleen Green at four.
Zimbabwe have a wealth of options with the bat, led from the front by captain Mary-Anne Musonda. Despite averaging 43 at a strike rate of 116.21 so far in the tournament, Musonda has played a supporting role in her team’s campaign with the bat, watching the likes of Modester Mupachikwa and Ashley Ndiraya from the other end.
Mupachikwa (133 runs at 66.50) boasts the highest batting average at the tournament, with Ndiraya’s 112 runs coming at 28.00, providing a stable opening to the innings.
Zimbabwe boast two of the three leading wicket takers at the tournament, with spin of Loryn Phiri (15 wickets at 2.46) yet to be adequately countered. Esther Mbofana’s seam at the other end has been almost as effective, taking 12 wickets in the five matches thus far.
The teams will do battle on the Botswana Cricket Association Oval 1 ground, with Tanzania taking on Uganda beforehand in a play-off for third.
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