Botswana cricket was left ruing another missed chance after the men’s senior side agonisingly went close to booking a space in the global qualifiers for the 2023 T20 World Cup qualifiers.
Pitted in what appeared an easy group against Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Mozambique, there were also no traditional irritants like Namibia, Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria. Botswana were the favourites, entering the tournament held in Rwanda as the top-ranked nation at number 36. Tanzania are ranked at number 37 while Sierra Leone are 61, with Mozambique placed at number 73. Cameroon are outside the ranked 90 countries. Joseph Angara’s charges expected to beat Sierra Leone in the first match, winning by 72 runs. They followed it up with another routine win over Cameroon, a comprehensive nine-wicket victory.
The third contest against Mozambique was tighter than the first two, with Botswana recording a 52 run victory. With Tanzania also winning against the weaker opponents, it was down to the decider against Botswana. The boys in blue, black and white managed to bowl out Tanzania for 143 in with a ball to spare in the 20 overs. The game went down to the wire largely due to the heroics of Thatayaone Tshose and Phemelo Silas. Needing 21 off the last over, Tshose dragged Botswana into the contest with 17 runs from five balls. It meant Tshose had to find the boundary with the last ball but was caught on the boundary attempting to get the team over the line.
It ended in an agonising three-run defeat, which sent Tanzania through to the global qualifiers. “Well, we are still disappointed not to be part of the ongoing Africa final qualifiers but we have to pick ourselves up quickly and move on. We played well throughout the tournament and we could not cross the boundary in the last game. We can look at so many areas why we lost the game but I feel Tanzania did the basics right, better than us. We live to fight another day. We have a very good young Botswana squad that I am very proud of.
We just need more exposure to competitive games and we will get there,” Angara told Mmegi Sport. Skipper, Karabo Motlhanka said it was unfortunate the team fell short after playing good cricket. "We probably played the best brand of cricket as a team. We were praised for being a well drilled side but unfortunately, we did not make it in the last game.
I think that was due to missed chances. You miss your chances you are in danger of losing the game. COVID-19 was a challenge and we were not able to do what we were supposed to do. But we worked with what we had," Motlhanka said. Like Angara, he said it was a disappointing to narrowly lose the deciding game. "It was extremely disappointing because we believed we worked very hard. At the last hurdle we couldn't cross. We didn't have our best game as a team. We only needed to play a little better to cross over the line.
The lessons we take is that every ball, every game is important. Another down point was failing to crossing the line under pressure, that's why we need more games to manage pressure situations," the captain said.