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Global Game: Zimbabwe win the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier

By Emerging Cricket

It was another jam-packed week in Associate cricket, with a Women’s T20 Qualifier in Botswana, a men’s tri-series in Oman, Thailand’s women in South Africa, and Zimbabwe’s men in Scotland.

Continuing on from last week, the 2023 ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier concluded in Gaborone on Sunday, with Zimbabwe lifting the crown and claiming the lone qualifying slot for the 2022 global qualifier. It completed an unbeaten run for Zimbabwe, stretching back through the second week of round robin matches in Group A, against hosts Botswana, Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania. Runners-up Namibia meanwhile topped Group B, which also featured Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.

In Group A on Monday the 13th, Tanzania overcame a spirited Rwanda to post 104/8 after Margueritte Vumiliya nabbed 3/10. Fatuma Kibasu led the way with the ball for Tanzania with 4/13 as Rwanda battled to just 61 in the 17th over. The afternoon game was also one-way traffic as Zimbabwe racked up 205/3 against Mozambique (skipper Josephine Nkomo top-scoring with 56*) before Precious Marange’s 4/8 bundled them out for just 34.

Group B saw comfortable victories to Namibia and Nigeria, winning by 57 runs and 10 wickets respectively. Sune Witmann’s 52 (43) carried Namibia to 144/6, before Yasmeen Khan (leaving the keeping to Kayleen-Ann Green) scalped 3/10 as Sierra Leone were restricted to 87/9. In the Afternoon game, Nigeria’s Blessing Etim reset the record books against Cameroon, with the remarkable figures of 4/0 in 4 overs to help bowl them out for 47. Nigeria reached the target without loss in the 7th over.

On Tuesday in Group A, Tanzania claimed the biggest win of the tournament with a 256-run demolition of Eswatini, as Fatuma Kibasu’s 127* (66) carried them to 279/2 before Sophia Jerome (3/7) and Mwanamvua Ushanga (3/1) bowled out the Emaswati for just 23. Botswana then went down to Rwanda in a thriller. The hosts managed just 94/9 (Margueritte Vumiliya’s 2/10 off 4 the best of the bowlers), and Rwanda wobbled in their chase losing regular wickets, but a cool-headed 19 (19) from Henriette Ishimwe in the middle order steadied the ship and they reached the target with 3 wickets and 8 deliveries to spare.

Over in Group B, Uganda and Namibia continued their inexorable march to the semi-finals. Uganda cruised to a 9-wicket win thanks to Stephani Nampiina’s 3/18 restricting Sierra Leone to 86/8, then wicketkeeper Kevin Awino’s 39* (36) taking them home inside 13 overs. For Namibia, seamer Wilka Mwatile recorded her nation’s first 5-wicket haul in T20Is, with 5/6 in 4 overs keeping Cameroon to just 30. They polished off the target within 4 overs.

There was only one match on Wednesday, the Group B wooden spoon clash between Cameroon and Sierra Leone. Cameroon were the ones to go winless, despite their tournament-best innings of 76/9 in 20 overs. It was the Linda Bull show for Sierra Leone, as she scalped 3/11 in 4 overs then led the chase with 17 (21) to get over the line 4 wickets down in the 15th over. Michele Ekani grabbed Cameroon’s best-ever T20I figures with 3/12.

Thursday saw a return to the field for Group A, with all six teams in action. First, Mozambique claimed their first win of the tournament over Eswatini, as they posted 138/6 with a watchful 33* (54) from Olga Matsolo the top score. Then Cecilia Murrombe’s 4/4 dismissed Eswatini for 50. Meanwhile Zimbabwe overcame Rwanda by 52 runs, posting 142/4 (Mary-Anne Musonda’s 34 off 28 the top score) before Loreen Tshuma’s 4/11 kept the Rwandans to just 90/9 in their quota. The afternoon game was another emphatic performance by Tanzania, who confirmed their place in the semis with a 7-wicket rout of Botswana. Perice Kamunya starred with 3/6 to help bowl out the tournament hosts for 82, then 34* (26) from Monica Pascal ensured that Tanzania ran down the target in just 10.5 overs.

Semi-finals day on Friday went mostly as expected, with the two undefeated sides winning through to the decider, but Namibia had to work hard against Tanzania. After keeping them to 89/7 (Wilka Mwatile and Kayleen-Ann Green both claiming two wickets), Namibia looked to be cruising at 35/1 in 7 overs, but Sophia Jerome’s 3/18 derailed the chase. They just kept losing wicket and momentum drained from the innings before skipper Irene van Zyl got them back on course with a calming 22 (28) and they limped over the line 8 wickets down with just one ball to spare. Their opponents in the final, Zimbabwe, also looked to be in trouble at 44/5 in the 14th over - but a late-innings blitz from Precious Marange (40 off 25) boosted the run rate and carried them to a competitive 108/6. Uganda’s batting was not up to the task, and without a similar boost to their scoring speed, they simply couldn’t keep up with the asking rate.The last day, Sunday, saw a demoralised Uganda slump to 79 against Tanzania in the third-place playoff in the morning, before Tanzania reeled it in with 9 wickets and 9 overs to spare.

The final itself was a repeat of the final in the 2019 Africa event, where Zimbabwe beat Namibia by 50 runs in the final at Harare (though they subsequently missed out due to the board’s suspension at the time). This time, it was a 13-run triumph that showed their superior experience at this level. Posting 133/4 (thanks largely to a 76-run stand between openers Modester Mupachikwa and Chiedza Dhururu), Zimbabwe could well have been restricted to a smaller total, as Namibia arguably gave away the winning margin’s worth of extra runs due to a sloppy performance in the field. They botched two chances in the first over (a runout and a catch to the wicketkeeper Green), and that set the disappointing tone. In their chase, a sluggish start kept them bogged down until Green (21 off 19) and Wilka Mwatile (26 off 24) upped the run rate, but when they were dismissed in the 15th and 18th overs, they left too much for young Arrasta Diergaardt (18* off 12) to do with the tail, and Namibia were left to rue their mistakes in the field.

Zimbabwe men defeat Scotland 2-1 in the bilateral T20I series

Zimbabwe’s men also had a successful week, winning their T20I series against Scotland 2-1 in Edinburgh. Scotland claimed the first match on Wednesday, as Richie Berrington’s 82* (61) carried them to 141/6 in their 20 overs, then opening seamer Safyaan Sharif’s 4/24 helped to restrict Zimbabwe to 134/9. Milton Shumba’s 45* (30) got the tourists close, but ultimately he didn’t get enough support. Zimbabwe levelled the series through Sean Williams and a tight collective bowling effort, as the veteran allrounder hit 60* (52) to guide the innings to 136/5 and five bowlers took a wicket. Scotland were derailed early as four of their top five departed for single figures, and recovering from 16/4 in the fifth over was always going to be a tough ask. Berrington and wicketkeeper Matthew Cross both hit 42 to keep Scotland in the hunt but they ran out of support and the hosts were dismissed 10 adrift of the mark in the 20th over. The decider was a see-sawing affair, with Scotland edged out by another Milton Shuma blitz. Chasing Scotland’s 177/4 (headlined by 54 off 30 from George Munsey), Zimbabwe looked buried when Sean Williams departed with the score at 63/3 in the 10th over. But Shuma smashed 6 sixes on his way to 66* (29) to get his side home with 5 balls to spare.

ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 update

In Oman, the long-awaited return of ICC Cricket World Cup League 2 action saw the hosts come out on top against Nepal and the USA. The two visiting sides opened proceedings last Monday, with USA going down by 5 wickets to Nepal. Led by keeper Monank Patel’s even 100 (114), the Americans posted 230/9 in their 50 overs - though it could have been more if he’d received more support (Nisarg Patel’s 21 was the next highest score). The Nepalis responded with an uncharacteristically solid batting effort as young guns Kushal Bhurtel (84 off 93) and Rohit Paudel (62* off 87) combined to steer the chase home with an over to spare. In their first match against Oman on the Tuesday, Nepal were not so steady, bowled out for 196 as the home fast bowling star Bilal Khan ran through their top order with 4/47. Aasif Sheikh battled gamely to hold things together with 90 (112), but with nobody else passing 21 it was another case of lacking support. Oman’s chase was a rout, as Jatinder Singh recorded the second-fastest ODI century by an Associate batter on his way to 107 (62). Oman passed the target 5 down in the 32nd over.

After a rest day on Wednesday, Thursday saw the hosts back in action as they edged out the USA in a laboured last-over chase. Opting to bowl first, they had the Americans in deep trouble at 96/8, but some late hitting from spinner Karima Gore (44 off 46) and seamer Elmore Hutchinson (49* off 61) carried them to a more defensible 178. The Omani response looked set to be a repeat of their win against Nepal, but when Jatinder Singh was bowled by US skipper Saurabh Netravalkar for 17 (10) the hosts slowed down and the Americans applied the squeeze - Netravalkar took 3/39 in his allotment, Steven Taylor rolled through 10 overs of offspin with 1/24, Nosthush Kenjige grabbed 1/25 in 7 overs and Nisarg Patel’s 9.4 went for 0/27. A trio of 30s in the middle order from Zeeshan Maqsood, Suraj Kumar and Mohammad Nadeem carried the day for Oman though, passing the target with 2 balls left.

On Friday, the Americans claimed their first points of the series, thumping Nepal by six wickets inside 30 overs. Led by another Netravalkar special with the ball (4/29 in 9 overs), Nepal were dismissed for 174. Steven Taylor’s 92 (63) at the top of the order made short work of the target as the USA cruised home with a whopping 123 balls to spare. Sunday’s match was a boilover to the unpredictable Nepalis, who overcame the hosts in convincing fashion. Led by 4-wicket hauls to star legspinner Sandeep Lamichhane (4/18 in 8.1 overs) and opening paceman Karan KC (4/25 in 8), Oman were bundled out for just 121. Nepal made no mistakes in the chase, with skipper Gyanendra Malla’s 52* (46) getting them home for the loss of 3 wickets in just the 19th over.

In the final match on Monday evening, Oman cemented their place at the top of the CWCL2 ladder with a comprehensive victory over the USA. Sent in by the Americans, Oman posted 274/7 thanks to a run-a-ball 53 from skipper Zeeshan Maqsood, and substantive contributions from his batting colleagues (five other batters passed 25). In response, the Americans were never really in the chase after opening pace duo Kaleemullah and Bilal Khan removed the openers cheaply. Monank Patel fought hard with 56 (58), but left-arm orthodox Ayaan Khan got him feathering through to the keeper and then continued to wrap up the tail on his way to 4/36 in 8 overs; the USA were bowled out for 202 in the 40th over. At the end of the series, Oman’s lead in the CWCL2 is extended, keeping them in pole position for a chance at promotion to the next edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup Super League, while Nepal’s two victories push them to fourth on the ladder with 16 of their 36 matches still to play. The USA remain second, but with only 8 matches in hand they will need an improved showing in their run home to hold onto a top three position (and with it, automatic qualification to the 2022 ICC Men’s World Cup Qualifier).

Thailand Women claim 2-1 series victory over South Africa Emerging side

Back in Africa, and Thailand’s women wrapped their tour of South Africa with a 2-1 series victory over the South African Emerging side. The first match was a bad day for the tourists as they conceded 151/4 (legspinner Suleeporn Laomi the pick of the bowlers with 1/24 in her 4), then crumbled for just 91 in 18 overs. South African offspinner Kushi Mistry ran riot with 5/19. Friday’s win in the rematch was an improved outing with bat and ball from Thailand, as keeper Nannapat Koncharoenkai’s 50 (42) carried them to 139/5 in their 20. With the ball, ex-captain Sornnarin Tippoch’s miserly spell of 2/12 in 4 overs led the defence as Thailand restricted the South Africans to 109/8 in their quota. Thailand then claimed a series win with an emphatic performance from Laomi, who scalped 4/12 in her 4 overs to rout the hosts for just 84. Thailand’s batters cruised past the target in 16 overs with 7 wickets in hand, as Natthakan Chantham’s 36* (39) led the way.

Global Game is a collaboration between the ICC and Emerging Cricket.

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