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Namibia stunned by Kenya in Kwibuka Women’s T20 final

Namibia stunned by Kenya in Kwibuka Women’s T20 final

The formbook was ripped to shreds as Kenya won the seventh edition of the Kwibuka Women’s Twenty20 International Tournament at Gahanga Stadium on Saturday evening in Kigali, Rwanda.

There was nothing fortuitous about Kenya’s commanding 7-wicket victory over pre-tournament favourites Namibia enroute to scooping their record fourth title at the 10-day event.

Kenya had lost to Namibia in their last three meetings at different International Cricket Council (ICC) events and more recently in the round-robin phase of this meet when the southern Africans triumphed by 36 runs.

But in the do-or-die final, there was a rare quality to the Kenya women’s display that couldn’t possibly have been discerned in their previous outings.

Kenya captain Margaret Banja Ngoche lost the pre-match toss and Namibia’s Irene van Zyl opted to bat first – a previously successful trend they had followed to the script in all matches.

Banja had earlier reasoned that the toss didn’t matter much in the final as she would have preferred to bowl first as well. And backed by a strong vociferous Kenyan contingent from the government plus those living and working in Rwanda, Banja’s bowling arsenal found early rhythm and had extra spring in their step.

One early dropped chance of Adri van der Merwe (5 runs off 9 balls) by Queentor Abel at the long-on boundary was the only blip in Kenya’s clinical bowling and fielding display that had only three extras as the East Africans bundled out the Capricorn Eagles for 69 runs all out in 15.5 overs.

Those watching on Women’s CricZone YouTube and Facebook channels could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a highlights show.

Wickets tumbled in quick succession thanks to an absurd mix of poor running between the wickets and an energetic fielding display that could have been envied by any top cricketing nation.

There was only one worthy partnership – a 29-run one for the third wicket – between wicketkeeper Yasmeen Khan (11 runs off 16 balls) and Kayleen-Ann Green (15 runs off 18 balls). But Kenya vice-captain Sarah Bhakita Wetoto ignited the collapse when she dived forward to send Green packing at 42 runs for 4 wickets in 8.5 overs.

Wetoto then went on to spin her way to a third Player of Match Award with a second five-wicket haul in the showpiece. She showed her mastery of the art of spin bowling with a lot of deceptive flight and accurate lines in her spell that accounted for 6 wickets for only 16 runs as the last five Namibian wickets fell for 24 runs. Wetoto also received the Match Ball – her second of the tournament – from Tournament Referee Emmanuel Byiringiro.

Dietlind Foerster (2) fell at 45 for 5 in 9.1 overs, Wilka Mwatile didn’t disturb the scorers at 46 for 6 in 9.4 overs, captain van Zyl (3) was dismissed at 47 for 7 in 9.4 overs, Edelle van Zyl (6) followed for a quick shower at 62 for 8 in 13.5 overs, Merczerly Gorases (0) tried to hit out and paid the price at 64 for 9 in 15.1 overs and Victoria Hamunyela (0) was the last batter out at 15.5 overs with Sylvia Shihepo left stranded on 16 runs not out off 21 balls.

There were early jitters in the run chase of the small total – 70 – with Shihepo (0 for 13 runs in 2 overs) and Green (1 wicket for 18 runs in 4 overs) starting with two maidens upfront including the wicket of the dangerous Kenya opener Veronicah Abuga (0 runs off 5 balls) at 1 for 0 in 1.5 overs.

Abel was caught by Khan off Mwatile for 10 runs to silence the crowd at 22 for 2 in 4.5 overs but it was only for a while as Kenya captain Ngoche (37 runs not out off 30 balls) and multi-talented Sharon Juma (16 runs off 14 balls) made a mockery of the chase with 10 boundaries including a straight screen six from Ngoche to seal victory with 54 balls remaining.

At the colourful awards ceremony held at the Gahanga Stadium, Botswana took the Fair Play Award, Kenya’s Abel (30 points) was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Tournament, Best Bowler’s Award was taken by Wetoto (17 wickets), Best Batter and Sixer was Namibia’s Sune Wittmann with 167 runs. The individual award winners didn’t not only take trophies but also classy mobile phones.


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Sport Contributor

The Economist does not have a dedicated sport reporter. This designation is used for several contributors who want their sport stories in the Economist. Experience has taught us that companies usually want their sport sponsorships published prominently, being the reason for a sports category. It now also carries general sport items but only those with direct Namibian relevance. - Ed.