T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier: Group A – Know the teams
With Scotland having taken the European crown and booked their place in the 2023 T20 World Cup (global) qualifier, the world’s attention now shifts to the African continent where 11 teams are set to battle it out in the 2021 T20 World Cup Africa qualifier in Botswana. The 11-day tournament begins on Thursday (September 9) with all the matches set to be held at the Botswana Cricket Association’s Ovals no. 1 and 2 in Gaborone.
The teams have been divided into two groups – one of six, and the other of five – with the top two teams from each group progressing to the knockout stage. The winner of the tournament will book a place in the global qualifier.
Group A consists of Botswana, Eswatini, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, while Group B includes Cameroon, Namibia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
The tournament was originally meant to be held in October 2021, but was brought forward to avoid fixture congestion.
Women’s CricZone takes a closer look at the teams from Group A ahead of the tournament.
(Note: Recent form = latest match first)
ICC ranking: 40
Last played: June 2021
Recent form: L-L-L-L-N/R
Team speak: In their first-ever ICC tournament, hosts Botswana are the second lowest-ranked team in the tournament. In June this year, they competed in the Kwibuka T20 tournament in Rwanda, failing to win a single game in the tournament. However, head coach Innocent Chando believes that experience of competing against better-skilled teams will hold them in good stead heading into the biggest tournament in their careers so far.
“The team have been playing friendly matches with our Under-17 boys every Saturday and training during the week. So far, so good – they are keeping the pace so we are very positive,” he told The Voice Botswana.
“Countries that will be at the tourney are stronger sides. We have played with them before but it was two years ago so we cannot judge their strength based on this. But we are optimistic as we have done our homework as well and will take it one game at a time.”
Captain Laura Mophakedi echoed the coach’s thoughts, adding that the team is ready for the challenge and keen to make a good first impression in an ICC event. “With such limited time and resources, I believe we have utilized them the best we could and I am hopeful that we will do well. The team is okay physically and mentally thus putting us in a better position to emerge victorious.”
Key Player: Seam bowling allrounder Amantle Mokgotlhe was Botswana’s standout performer through the Kwibuka T20 tournament, taking three wickets and scoring 41 runs, including hitting the team’s only six of the tournament. Mokgotlhe’s best of 36 not out and 2 for 19 came in Botswana’s final group match against Nigeria. Despite the presence of senior players like Shameelah Mosweu and Mophakedi, the allrounder’s contributions will be key to her team’s fortunes.
Squad: Laura Mophakedi (c), Olebogeng Batisani, Kesango Inakale, Onneile Kietsemang, Jacqueline Kgang, Thandiwe Legabile, Bontle Madimabe (wk), Precious Modimo, Thapelo Modise, Amantle Mokgotlhe, Collin Mokibelo, Shameelah Mosweu, Botsogo Mpedi, Florence Samanyika, Tuelo Shadrack
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ICC ranking: N/A
Last played: Yet to make their international debut
Recent form: N/A
Eswatini are a bit of an unknown in the competition. In December last year, the Eswatini Cricket Association held a regional tournament that saw eight teams compete over a period of eight weeks in a series of T20 games, and have since held a few training camps for the women in preparation for this tournament.
Squad: Awaiting announcement.
ICC ranking: 49
Last played: November 2019
Latest results: L-L-W-W-L
Team speak: Close to two years since they last took the field, Mozambique come into the Africa qualifiers with little to lose. Grouped alongside the much more accomplished teams like Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Tanzania, they have little hope of making it to the knockouts, but that will not take away from the effort that they put in on the field.
Key Player: 19-year-old Isabel Chuma is Mozambique’s highest wicket-taker in T20Is, their fourth-highest run-getter and the joint most capped player. With 118 runs at a strike rate of 106 and 16 wickets to her name, she is one of the current squad’s most accomplished players. Chuma took four wickets for 21 runs on her T20I debut against Sierra Leone – the best figures on debut for any player from Mozambique.
If the lowest-ranked team in the group are to challenge the other teams, Chuma will have to be at her very best for Mozambique.
Squad: Olga Matsolo (c), Isabel Chuma, Alcinda Cossa, Palmira Cuinica, Sheila Guambe, Rosalia Hoiong, Flora Macaringe, Paula Mazuze, Atalia Monjane, Cecelia Murrombe, Helena Rungo, Jessica Sainda, Dalmira Tivane
ICC ranking: 30
Last played: June 2021
Latest results: W-L-L-W-L
Team speak: The 2021 edition of the T20 World Cup Africa Qualifiers will be Rwanda’s second. Coming into the tournament with a bit of game and training time under their belts, they will be hoping to finish in the top two of the group stage.
The Sarah Uwera-led side finished third in the Kwibuka T20 tournament in June, gaining some much-needed confidence through that tournament. Assistant coach Kenneth Bugingo said the experience helped a young Rwandan team learn how to perform under pressure and win tight games.
“Last time we participated in the qualifiers as debutants but now we are going back with a different ambition. We know what we are going to do there. We have a young squad but with a confident attitude and winning mentality,” Bugingo said. “Some teams that we played during the Kwibuka Tournament are the same opponents we are going to face in the World Cup qualifiers. That was a good opportunity for us because we were able to know how strong they are and what we need to do to give them a challenge. We have no plan to lose.”
Key Player: After a promising Kwibuka T20 tournament in which she finished as the third-highest wicket-taker, Henriette Ishimwe has been elevated to vice-captain of Rwanda for the qualifiers. Coming in to bowl in tough situations, the right arm seamer used her accuracy and change of pace to great effect, picking up eight wickets at an average of 9.37 and economy rate of 3.75. She also scored some useful runs in the middle order, including an important 23-ball 24 against Nigeria to help Rwanda sneak into the semi-finals.
Squad: Sarah Uwera (wk), Sifa Ingabire, Immacule Muhawenimana, Alice Ikuzwe, Diane Marie Bimenyimana (c), Henriette Ishimwe (vc), Margueritte Vumiliya, Gisele Ishimwe, Josiane Nyirankundineza, Belyse Murekatete, Cathia Uwamahoro, Antoinette Uwimbabazi, Flora Irakoze, Merveille Uwase.
ICC ranking: 19
Last played: June 2019
Latest results: W-W-W-W-W
Team talk: After a successful 2019 Kwibuka T20 tournament, Tanzania were unable to build on the momentum gained having not taken the field since then. Despite the lack of international cricket, the side have undergone a couple of months of intense training preparing for the challenges of this tournament. They will face stiff competition in the opening encounter against favourites Zimbabwe, while underdogs Rwanda could also prove to be a handful.
Key Player: Veteran batter Fatuma Kibasu is Tanzania’s only centurion, and also the side’s highest run-getter with a total of 324 runs in 10 T20Is. A former captain, the right-hand batter smashed an unbeaten 108 against Mali in the previous edition of the Kwibuka T20 tournament – a knock that came on the back of another unconquered half-century against Uganda. Kibasu has also taken six wickets with her off-spin and could play an important role through the team’s campaign.
Squad: Hudaa Omary (c), Mwanaidi Ammy, Zinaida Jeremiah, Sophia Jerome, Linda Justine, Perice Kamunya, Fatuma Kibasu, Jennifer Kimaro, Shufaa Mohamed, Saum Mtae, Monica Pascal, Neema Pius, Nasra Saidi, Mwanaiddi Shakim, Nuru Tindo, Mwadamvua Ushanga.
ICC ranking: 12
Last played: August 2021
Latest results: L-L-W-W-W
Team talk: Defending champions Zimbabwe have plenty to prove going into this tournament. Having been suspended by the ICC just ahead of the global qualifiers in 2019, Zimbabwe went without any international cricket until their recent series against Thailand. Although they lost the T20I series against the Asian team, 2-1, the competitive nature of the series will hold the squad in good stead heading into what is a very important tournament for them.
“I thought the ladies turned up very well, seven days of camp and straight into a tour like this, and also not having played for a long time, I think we did very well,” head coach Adam Chifo was quoted as saying during the Thailand series, adding that he was impressed by the depth of talent within the country.
Key Player: Batter Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano is Zimbabwe’s second-highest run-getter in T20Is with 335 runs in 17 matches. Her tally has come at an impressive strike rate of over 110 and an average of 30, making her one of the country’s most prolific and dangerous batters. In the recent series against Thailand, the 29-year-old scored a total of 175 runs in five matches across formats. Against teams with slightly slow bowlers, Mugeri-Tiripano’s experience and skill will hold Zimbabwe in good stead.
Squad: Mary-Anne Musonda (c), Christabel Chatonzwa, Chiedza Dhururu (wk), Tasmeen Granger, Precious Marange, Audrey Mazvishaya, Esther Mbofana, Chipo Mugeri-Tiripano, Modester Mupachikwa, Ashley Ndiraya, Josephine Nkomo, Lorraine Phiri, Nomvelo Sibanda, Loreen Tshuma
Group A fixtures:
9 September: Mozambique v Rwanda; Botswana v Eswatini
10 September: Tanzania v Zimbabwe; Botswana v Mozambique
11 September: Eswatini v Zimbabwe; Mozambique v Tanzania
12 September: Eswatini v Rwanda; Botswana v Zimbabwe
13 September: Rwanda v Tanzania; Mozambique v Zimbabwe
14 September: Eswatini v Tanzania; Botswana v Rwanda
16 September: Eswatini v Mozambique; Rwanda v Zimbabwe; Botswana v Tanzania