Eddie Chikamhi-Senior Sports Reporter
TAIL-ENDERS Francisca Chipare and Nomvelo Sibanda held their nerve to help Zimbabwe over the line in a tense one-wicket win over USA in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier match at Takashinga Sports Club yesterday.
Chipare, who came in at number 11, helped pull the game from the jaws of defeat after the Lady Chevrons had suffered a spectacular batting collapse.
Set a modest target of 132 to win the match, the Zimbabweans struggled in the reply and only inched home to 132/9, in 33.3 overs.
Chipare played a key role, with her unbeaten cameo of 16 runs from 15 balls, after the Lady Chevrons had slipped into a difficult position.
She enjoyed the support from Sibanda (6), on the other end as Zimbabwe claimed a sensational win, with a handful of passionate fans at Takashinga Sports Club, cheering the team all the way.
The victory kept their hopes alive in the tournament, after they had suffered an agonising eight-run defeat to Thailand, in their opening match.
Skipper Mary-Anne Musonda and her teammates knew they had to win the match at all costs yesterday.
And, after winning the toss, they put USA to bat first, in the hope of putting them under pressure, with the ball.
But, Zimbabwe were not as clinical in the field where they gave away 23 extras.
USA still found a way to a modest total, with their captain, Sindhu Sriharsha, top-scoring with 22 runs.
Player of the match, Loreen Tshuma, was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with her figures of 3-19.
Precious Marange chipped in with 2-22.
Zimbabwe got off to an encouraging start in their chase after Modester Mupachikwa (22) and Sharne Mayers (32) put on 57 runs for the first wicket, inside the first 10 overs.
But, when captain Mary-Anne Musonda was dismissed for a duck, it sparked a batting collapse, which saw Zimbabwe lose five wickets, inside four overs.
The Lady Chevrons were 73/3, when Musonda was dismissed, after 15.2 overs and slid to 97/8, at the end of the 27th over.
Moksha Chaudhary caused a lot of damage with the ball, claiming four wickets, in just four overs.
Precious Marange was the only hope down the order but the hosts were dealt a huge blow when the all-rounder was trapped lbw by Tara Norris, with 17 runs still needed.
Chipare and Sibanda then cheered the spirits with a brave showing, at the end, much to the relief of coach Adam Chifo.
“Obviously, it’s not the way we would have wanted to get the two points. Anyway, we are happy we got the points but we still have a lot of work to do,’’ he said.
“I thought, maybe, we didn’t apply ourselves well in all departments.
“Not taking anything away from the USA side, we shouldn’t have been chasing 130. It was supposed to be 100 or less.’’
Zimbabwe are now third on the table.
Thailand moved into second place, after they shocked leaders Bangladesh, with a 16-run victory, at Harare Sports Club, courtesy of the Duckworth-Lewis calculations.
Zimbabwe still need to win their last two matches against Bangladesh and Pakistan women to nail a top three place in Group B.
“I think when it comes to tournaments such as these, there is a lot at stake and it all boils down to experience, skill and discipline,’’ said Musonda.
“I guess we are being found out when it comes to discipline and responsibility.
“I have no doubt that as batters we can bat. I think it’s the bigger stage that has probably taken a bit of toll on us, on our minds and emotions.
“Otherwise we cannot afford to give up.’’