Saturday, May 18, 2024

So near yet so far for Botswana’s Herons

Botswana Women cricket senior national team were once again found wanting as they lost by 9 wickets to Kenya in the finals of the ICC 2023 Women T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier- Division 2.

It was Botswana Herons’ second loss to Kenya and the second overall of the tournament. The two sides had met in the first match of the tournament where the Herons came out with their feathers plucked.

In the two sides’ first encounter, Botswana lost by 111 runs having sent Kenya to bat first. Wary of the defeat, Botswana women, who won the toss before the second encounter, opted to bat first.  

Herons’ coach Stanley Timoni says the decision was taken “because we knew we were going to bat all our overs.” It was however not to be as the Herons got to a horrible start with the top order crumbling in just five overs. Amantle Mokgotlhe was the first to be sent back for a duck having faced a mere four balls. 

Next to go was Shameelah Mosweu after 2.2 overs. The usually reliable Mosweu was caught out after edging Lavendah Alivitsa’s ball into the hands of Charity Muthoni. Her wicket proved to be the beginning of the end for the Herons as they lost two further wickets of captain Laura Mophakedi and Bontle Madimabe to the excellent bowling of Queentor Abel in overs 5.3 and 5.5 respectively.

Florence Samanyika, who had come to the crease after the departure of Mosweu bravely tried to keep the Herons flying. Her attempts were however not complemented by her teammates and she departed the crease with the first ball of the 9th over having scored 22 runs. She was the only Herons’ batslady to pass double digits in Botswana’s innings.

Following Samanyika’s dismissal, Botswana managed only 17 runs and were all bowled out in the 14th over. The last wicket to fall was that of Merapelo Phiase who was dismissed just two balls into the 14th over with the Herons having scored a beatable 52 runs.

In response, Kenya chased the score in just 8 overs for the loss of a single wicket. Daisy Njoroge top scored for Kenya, hitting an unbeaten 27 runs from 24 balls. Her 36-run partnership with Abel, before the latter was dismissed in over 5.3, all but sealed the win for Kenya.  

Despite the loss, the Herons have qualified for the Division One Qualifier along with unbeaten Kenya. Both teams will now join the top six teams for Africa Qualifier that will be held in Entebbe, Uganda in December.

For Timoni, this will be the start of a long process to prepare the team for what will be a sterner test. “The team’s mental strength was low and they failed on basic game tactics. The physical fitness is our players need to be worked on,” he observes.  

In his two months at the helm, Timoni says he has realised that the local girls need to play international matches to be exposed to higher intensity matches and to build on their confidence. The coach further observed that they have to improve on awareness and fitness going forward.

Despite the loss the coach was happy for the girls’ performance in the qualifiers and happy that they qualified for the next stage of qualifiers. 

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