Monday, December 11, 2023

Mixed Bag for Botswana U-19 women national cricket team

With just 9.4 overs gone in the game between Botswana Cricket U-19 national team and their Namibian counterparts, the DJ played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds tune. “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing, Gonna be alright,’ the stereo sounded.

Botswana would however surely have been worried. Another wicket had just tumbled, bringing the total wickets lost to 4 with just 25 runs on the scoreboard. If overhauling a massive 191 runs earlier posted by Namibia had seemed daunting from the onset, now it looked impossible. By the end of the 12th over, Botswana had lost seven (7) wickets for a mere 27 runs. 

After elation of the first day’s 1 wicket win over Sierra Leone, Botswana’s shortcomings were being brutally exposed in the second game against Namibia. Having won the toss, Botswana had opted to field first.

The decision, so says coach Reginald Nehonde, was taken looking at Botswana’s bowling strength. They had hoped to contain Namibia to a decent run total which they could overhaul. This was however to prove a fatal decision.

Having narrowly lost to Uganda in their first game, Namibia was hurting and were eager to make up for their loss. By the end of the 5th over, the Namibians who had been scoring at a rate of 13 runs an over had registered 65 runs without losing a wicket.

Things however did get better for Botswana in the sixth and seventh over when Goitseone Setshwane and Priscillaa Isaac replaced Kesego Inakale and Pako Mapotsana respectively at the bowling crease. The two bowlers assiduously went about undertaking some damage control and the effect was immediate as the run rate dropped.

Setshwane in particular was impressive as her first over at the crease yielded only five runs for the rampant Namibians. It came as no surprise that she gave Botswana a breakthrough claiming the wicket of the dangerous Mekelaye Mwatile on the 7th over. It brought to an end the latter’s partnership with Engela van der Merwe which had until then yielded 82 runs, 46 of which had come through Mwatile.

Despite the breakthrough, the fall in run rates and the eventual fall of the wickets of van der Merwe (17th over), Edelle van Zyl (16th over) and Kaylee van Wyk (18th over) the damage done early in the innings told. Namibia posted a seemingly insurmountable 190 runs, leaving Botswana in need of 191 runs to win.

In response, Botswana, who needed to score at least 9.5 runs an over to win got off to a bad start, registering just two run off the first two overs before losing Setshwane on the second ball of the 3rd over. By the 10th over, any hope of a comeback was all but extinguished as four (4) more wickets had tumbled, leaving Botswana at a precarious 27 runs for the loss of five wickets.

As the 8th wicket fell in the 15th over, all Botswana had to do was see the game through, which they did. This had been a steep learning curve for the local lasses, as captain alluded in the post-match interview. For coach Nehonde and the girls, it was back to the drawing board.

Lurking ahead of them on Tuesday was Uganda, and they had to get ready for another stern test. Any chance of qualifying lay in them causing an upset, beating a country which has so far proved the team to beat in their group.


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