It was a case of so near yet so far for the Botswana men’s senior national cricket team as they lost by a mere three runs to Tanzania. They failed to proceed to the next round of the ICC T20 World Cup Qualifiers.
As was expected, the match-up between the two was a nail-biting finale to the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Sub Regional Africa A Qualifiers, which was decided by the last ball of the last over.
Following Tanzania’s decision to bat first after winning the toss, Botswana’s bowlers, ably led by the young Dhruv Maisuria, managed to restrict Tanzania to a manageable 143 runs in 19.5 overs.
The youngster claimed four wickets, including the important scalp of the dangerous Ivan Slimani from 3.5 overs, while his captain Karabo Motlhanka also helped himself to a four-wicket haul.
Chasing the score, Botswana started well with the top order pairing of Tharindu Perera and Reginald Nehonde sharing a 49-run stand before Perera was run out on the 7th over. His replacement James Moses however did not last long at the crease as he was caught off K Nassoro bowling after facing 13 balls.
Things could have gone awry for Botswana from the 15th to the 17th over as they lost successive wickets. Nehonde, who had impressively kept Botswana in the game departed one ball from the 16th over after a 37-run stand, immediately followed by Motlhanka three balls later on the 16.2 over having registered 21 runs.
Vinoo Balakrishnan (3 runs from 4 balls), Valentine Mbazo (1 run from 3 balls) and Adithya Rangaswamy, who was bowled for a golden duck, were then quickly dismissed at 16.6, 17.3 and 17.4 overs respectively as Tanzania threatened to wrap up Botswana’s innings.
The arrival of Phemelo Silas and Thatayaone Tshose at the crease with just three overs left however gave Botswana some hope as they made a lively stand, scoring 10 runs off 6 balls and 21 runs off 9 balls respectively.
Trailing by 21 runs in what a frenetic ultimate over, Botswana took the war to the Tanzanians as the battle went to the last ball of the match. With four runs needed from the last ball for Botswana to clinch victory, the only option was to go for a boundary. This was however not to be as Botswana fell short.
Despite the loss, there were a lot of positives from the country’s showing, not least of which was the impressive showing of Maisuria, who walked away the best bowler of the tournament.
Speaking to The Telegraph Sport, Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) Vice Chairman and Public Relations officer Sumod Damodar said given the overall age of the current squad, the future is promising for the country’s cricket.
With an average age of around 25 years, Damodar said the team is still very youthful. He said now as they prepare for national team engagements in 2022, they will look to beef it up with more promising youngsters from the junior teams.