It had all the settings of a knockout blitz and it was surely played out as one.
Only that if it had been a real knockout clash, Uganda's campaign would have ended on the first day of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Women’s Twenty20 World Cup Africa Qualifier here in Gaborone, Botswana.
The Victoria Pearls showed some signs of rust and lack of international exposure in their painful yet not-shocking four-run loss to Namibia at the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) Oval 1 yesterday.
Both teams are expected to make the semifinals of this 11-meet and it was the Capricorn Eagles, who got some valuable competitive play-time at the Kwibuka Women’s International Twenty20 Tournament three months ago in Kigali, Rwanda that edged home in the clash of pre-tournament favourites.
Uganda won the toss, elected to have a bowl and were duly rewarded with two quick wickets as Namibia collapsed at 2 wickets for 1 run. But the Ugandans paid the price of trying to stop strangling the enemy so that they could add some punches by letting free-hitting Kayleen-Ann Green (54 runs off 49 balls) finish unbeaten with a half-century to help Namibia set 105 runs for the loss of 4 wickets in 20 overs.
Uganda’s slow bowlers; T20I debutante Consy Aweko (1 for 16 in 4 overs) and leg-spinner Stephen Nampiina (1 for 15 in 4 overs) bowled economical spells but they proved not enough to make more in-roads into Namibia’s batting arsenal with Yasmeen Khan (25) and captain Irene van Zyl (15) making hay.
Paying the price
The chase started off in insipid fashion with the scoreboard reading 13 runs for 2 wickets at the pivotal powerplay after 6 overs. Opener Rachael Ntono (1) and Ritah Musamali (9) were already back in the hut and Proscovia Alako (8 off 29) didn’t help matters with her low scoring rate as Uganda crawled to 38 runs for the loss of 3 wickets at the halfway stage.
Captain Immaculate Nakisuyi showed intent with a stroke-filled 36 runs off 31 balls but was dismissed with Uganda still chasing the game. Esther Iloku’s 22 and Nampiina’s 11 were only kicks of a dying horse as Uganda failed to get the 20 runs required off the last two overs – falling short by four runs.
“We will improve,” said Nakisuyi at the pre-match presentation after Green took the Player of the Match Award. “These things (mistakes) happen. We still have three group matches and we exactly know what to do. Our fans should keep the faith.”
Uganda take a rest today and they must do all the pondering before they return to action against Nigeria on Saturday afternoon. The winner of this event will qualify for the ICC Global Qualifier from which the top performers will get a clear view to the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup due 2023 in South Africa.
ICC WOMEN T20 QUALIFIER
Yesterday’s results – Match Day 1
Namibia 105/4 Uganda 101/7
Namibia won by 4 runs
Mozambique 17/10 Rwanda 18/0
Rwanda won by 10 wickets
Today’s fixtures – Match Day 2
Group B - Oval 2
3.30pm: Namibia vs. Nigeria
Group A - Oval 1
10.15am: Zimbabwe vs. Tanzania
3.15pm: Botswana vs. Mozambique
Saturday’s fixture – Match Day 3
Group B - Oval 2
3.30pm: Nigeria vs. Uganda
Group A –Oval 1
10.15am: Zimbabwe vs. Swaziland
3.15pm: Mozambique vs. Tanzania