Sarah Wetoto, Queentor Abel help Kenya start Kwibuka T20 campaign with a crushing win

Sarah Wetoto's five-wicket haul wrecked Botswana © Rwanda Cricket Association

Two-time champions Kenya showed why they are one of the strongest contenders in the five-team Kwibuka T20 tournament as Sarah Wetoto took a five-fer to restrict Botswana to just 68 for nine before aggressive batting headed by Queentor Abel helped them crush Botswana by nine wickets in their opening match of the competition at the Gahanga International Stadium in Kigali on Monday (June 7).

Put into bat, Botswana had a haphazard start when they lost Shameelah Mosweu even before a legal delivery has been bowled. Florence Samanyika tried to sneak in a bye when Lavendah Idambo bowled a wide outside off stump and Mosweu was caught well short at the strikers end and had to walk back without even facing a ball.

However, Samanyika didn’t let the run out affect her and in the company of skipper Laura Mophakedi tried to rebuild the innings slowly and looked assured at the crease. The duo took Botswana to 20 for one at the end of power play with Mophakedi smashing Margaret Ngoche through cover for the first boundary of the match. Samanyika also grew in confidence and hit Abel for a four through long-off.

Just as it looked like the pair will take them to safety, introduction of off-spinner Wetoto caused a mayhem in the Botswana camp when she snapped three wickets in her opening over with the score reading 29, their score from the opening match. Wetoto first had Mophakedi caught at mid-off for eight and then Bontle Madimabe hit one straight to Abel at cover for a first-ball duck before Botho Freeman was caught brilliantly at point by Margaret Ngoche.

ALSO READ: Victoria Hamunyela too good for Nigeria as Namibia start Kwibuka T20 with a win

From 29 for four in nine overs, Botswana couldn’t really recover as they struggled to force the pace against slow spin of Wetoto and Abel. They suffered a body blow when Wetoto accounted for the set Samanyika. The right-handed opener looked the best of the Botswana batters as she departed for 18 from 31 balls.

It went from bad to worse for Botswana as Wetoto picked up her fifth wicket when she castled Amantle Mokgotlhe for just two leaving them reeling at 38 for seven in 12.1 overs. Wetoto tossed up the ball generously but the Botswana batters lacked the power to go after her. Even though Botsogo Mpedi smashed her for a boundary, she finished with career-best figures of five for 12 from her four overs.

Mpedi added another boundary to her kitty when she hit Edith Waithaka through long-on for four but departed the next ball for 13. Botswana eventually finished on 68 for 9 from their 20 overs.

For Kenya, apart from Wetoto’s impressive five-wicket haul, Abel, Waithaka and Melvin Idambo picked up one wicket each.

In the chase, Kenyan got off the blocks quickly with the openers Abel and Veronica Abuga taking the attack to Botswana’s bowlers. In the second over, Abuga didn’t let Mosweu settle into any rhythm as she used her feet to step out against the left-arm spinner and smashed three boundaries to give Kenya a whirlwind start.

ALSO READ: Rwanda hopeful of clinching their maiden Kwibuka T20 tournament title in 2021

At the other end, Abel took cue from her partner and added two more boundaries to take the score to 28 in the first three overs. Kenya openers looked strong down the ground as Botswana bowlers erred by bowling too full to both the batters. The onslaught continued as Abuga picked up another boundary in the fourth over off Samanyika.

Despite Onneile Keitsemang striking in the fifth over to remove Abuga when the right-hander tried to go for one shot too many and lost her middle stump for 22 off just 15 balls, Kenya didn’t change their approach with Ngoche starting the innings with an impressive drive through cover for four before backing it up with another boundary through square-leg.

In the sixth over, Abel got Kenya over the fifty-run mark with a boundary through extra-cover. At the end of the power play they raced to 55 runs losing just one wicket and needed only 14 runs from the remaining overs. Abel smashed two back-to-back boundaries in the eighth over as Kenya cantered home to a nine-wicket win. Abel remained unbeaten on 35 from just 19 balls.

Brief Scores: Botswana 68/9 in 20 overs (Florence Samanyika; Sarah Wetoto 5/12) lost to Kenya 71/1 in 7.3 overs (Queentor Abel 35*, Veronica Abuga 22; Onneile Keitsemang 1/21) by nine wickets POTM: Sarah Wetoto