Monday, May 16, 2022

Botswana stutters at second hurdle

Erratic fielding and loss of wickets at crucial times were a source of grief for the Botswana senior cricket team as they lost their game against Vanuatu on Sunday.

After winning their first game against Ghana at Lobatse on Saturday, the local boys put up a good showing against Vanuatu only for them to capitulate at crucial times when they seemed on course to win the game.

With Vanuatu batting first, the islanders accrued 265 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in their allotted 50 overs.  The game started well for Botswana as Russel Withey rattled the Vanuatu top order in the fourth over, taking the crucial wicket of Trevor Langa.

The good start was, however, spoiled by some erratic fielding that saw Botswana leak a lot of extra runs or byes. Things seemed to change for the better in the 16th and 19th overs, however, when Botswana claimed two wickets off the Vanuatu top order, thanks to the bowling of Nabil Master and Feroze Essack, respectively.

The likely crackdown on the Vanuatuans seemed a false dawn, however, as it took a long time for Botswana to crack the Vanuatu middle order.

The breakthrough came when Botswana claimed the crucial wickets of Jonathan Dunn and Patrick Matautaava off the bowling of Master and Hasantha Mudiyanselage in the successive 34th and 35th overs, respectively.

Ten overs later, team captain Karabo Modise bowled and caught the wicket of Vanuatu’s dangerous Nalin Nipiko who came out the games’ top scorer with 79 runs.

With the Vanuatu inning going towards the end, Botswana fielders seemed to lose concentration as Vanuatu scored 42 runs off the remaining 5 overs to set Botswana a target of 266 runs to win the game.

Botswana’s chase got off to a horrible start as their top order was rattled in the first over with experienced batsman Faisal Rana Rasheed bowled out. His replacement, Karabo Motlhanka, lasted only 5 overs at the crease before he too was dismissed as Botswana’s top order crumbled in the face of Vanuatu pace attack. The introduction of Modise to partner Saad Mohyuddin at the crease then steadied the Botswana ship as the duo took the game to their opponents.

The two were impressive with the bat as they drove the Vanuatu attack off the park, with Modise claiming three sixes in the process. The captain was, however, dismissed in the 14th over as he was caught after sending a ball sky high as he tried to hit another six. Modise’s dismissal slowed things for Botswana who had then looked on course to overhaul the Vanuatu score.

Botswana was then dealt a blow in the 32nd over when Mohyuddin was dismissed. The dismissal all but ended Botswana’s chase as they lost the wicket of Denzil Sequeira in the 36th over before Waseem Tajbhay went out in the 42nd over to complete the capitulation of Botswana’s middle order.

From then on, Botswana struggled to put any decent run rate in and only managed 36 runs off the last overs for the loss of a further two wickets. The result meant Botswana lost the game by 23 runs and left the country with a lot to do in their remaining games. Botswana’s quest for promotion continues today (Wednesday) before playing their last group game on Friday.

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