An 11-day battle between bat and ball roared to life at the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) Oval yesterday, with Botswana recording one of the world's record wins after smashing Eswatini by 195 runs in an ICC T20 World Cup Africa qualifier.
This is the fifth highest winning margin by runs in the history of women's T20 cricket. Botswana is among 11 nations contesting for a sole ticket to proceed to the final round of the qualifiers, which take place next year. The hosts chose to bat and never looked back, galloping at an above 10runs per over against an out-of-sorts girls from the tiny kingdom. Botswana posted an imposing 224 for the loss of just two wickets, before turning the screws on the Swati, as the local bowlers came to the party, dismissing their opponents for a paltry 29.
Ahead of yesterday's match, coach, Joseph Angara said the local girls will take it one game at a time, although it will be satisfying to reach at least the semifinals. Opening batswoman, Olebogeng Batisani was the woman of the match after blasting 77 runs from 66balls, as she dispatched the Eswatini bowlers to all parts of the field.
“The team is in good spirit. We will take it one game at a time. All the players are available. We are all positive (about) going to the semifinals, but we have to take it one game at a time,” Angara said. Namibia and Rwanda also got their campaigns off to perfect starts with wins over Uganda and Mozambique respectively. The Namibians were particularly ruthless against Uganda, romping to a crushing 10-wicket win. The BCA has put teams under a strict bio-bubble to avoid COVID-19 infections. The teams are housed under a roof at the Avani Hotel and spectators are not allowed at matches.
“Due to the nature of the current global pandemic and the need to ensure the utmost safety and security of all players, officials and support personnel involved with the tournament, the focus of the 'Biosecurity Bubble' will be enforced with very stringent and strict measures,” BCA vice chairperson, Sumod Damodar said. As part of protocols to minimise the spread of COVID-19, Damodar said eliminated teams will immediately depart to their respective countries.
Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Mozambique, Eswatini, Namibia and Zimbabwe join the hosts Botswana in the qualifiers. Botswana is in Group A with Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Eswatini and Zimbabwe, while Group B has Uganda, Namibia, Nigeria, Cameroon and Sierra Leone. The top two teams from each group progress to the semifinals with the eventual tournament winner guaranteed a spot in the next and final round of the global qualifiers.
South Africa will host the 2022 World Cup finals in February 2023, after the tournament dates were moved back.