THE Zimbabwe women’s cricket team coach Gary Brent says his team is playing some decent cricket and hopes for more when the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier begins in the United Arab Emirates this weekend.
The Lady Chevrons, who are already in the UAE, yesterday completed their preparatory quadrangular series unscathed following a three-wicket victory over Thailand at the ICC Academy Oval in Dubai.
The result meant they completed three wins in three matches after they had outplayed USA and the hosts UAE, in the scorching heat of Dubai, in the opening two games.
And it looks like everything is falling into place for the Zimbabwe women’s cricket side, who are angling for their first T20 World Cup appearance.
They are set to face Papua New Guinea, Thailand and UAE in Group B of the eight-team Qualifier, where the top two teams will book their places at next year’s World Cup to be held in South Africa. The other group comprises of the USA, Scotland, Ireland and Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe’s preparations in the last two weeks have almost been flawless. They beat South Africa Emerging 4-1 in a T20 series played in Pretoria shortly before their departure for Dubai.
They then dominated the preparatory Quadrangular series in Dubai, much to the delight of Brent and ZC director of cricket, Hamilton Masakadza, who is also part of the delegation in the UAE.
“The girls have played well,” said Brent.
“We are certainly going in the right direction; the girls are playing some decent cricket but there are certain areas that we still need to have a look at and improve on. But I am very happy with the result.”
Brent was impressed by how the team has adjusted to the sweltering heat in the region where temperatures have been hovering above 38 degrees Celsius during the day.
“They have adjusted exceptionally well. The weather is very hot and the girls have just taken it in their stride. We had a chat about it and the girls have come out and played cricket the way they wanted to play, which is very pleasing. So I am happy for them,” said Brent.
Brent’s charges yesterday put up a good bowling effort and the batters completed the task despite losing a couple of wickets late on.
Thailand won the toss and elected to bat first. Zimbabwe managed to restrict them to 102/5 in their 20 overs before they overhauled the target with eight balls remaining after reaching 106/7.
Player of the Match Sharne Mayers (48) and Chipo-Mugeri Tiripano (26) featured in a key 59-run partnership for the second wicket after they had lost opening batter Kelis Ndhlovu (6) early in the innings.
The batters did the job upfront and Zimbabwe were 79/2 after 9.3 overs. However, the batting line-up was shaken late in the innings as they stumbled to 106/7.
Still the show impressed Masakadza, who noted the huge difference between the two sides in comparison to when they met in Harare last year.
“I thought the girls were brilliant. When we played Thailand in Harare they looked very competitive and they ran us close almost all the time. But today I thought the ladies totally outplayed them.
“The game was done and dusted in about 10 overs into our innings. So I think there has been a huge improvement and I loved the energy on the field. The ladies are looking really sleek, they are looking very professional and a well-drilled outfit.
“The bowling was exceptional and the batters upfront did the job. So it’s three out of three. I am really happy to see that. I am just hoping and trusting for more of the same when the ladies cross over to Abu Dhabi. But I think the preparations have gone on very well,” said Masakadza.
Zimbabwe are today set to shift base to Abu Dhabi where the Qualifier is set to take place, starting on Sunday. Prior to their first game of the tournament, they will play a final warm-up match against Scotland this Friday in Abu Dhabi.
Zimbabwe women itinerary
ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier warm up match
Friday: Zimbabwe vs Scotland (Tolerance Oval, Abu Dhabi, 2pm)
ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier
Sunday: Zimbabwe vs Papua New Guinea (Tolerance Oval, 10am)
Monday: Zimbabwe vs Thailand (Zayed Cricket Stadium, 10am)
Wednesday: Zimbabwe vs UAE (Tolerance Oval, 2pm)
September 23: Semi-finals
September 25: Final (Zayed Cricket Stadium)