Rwanda’s national women cricket team will face a tough test at the International Cricket Council Women Africa World Cup qualifier due in May – where it will for the first time get ranked on the global table.
It is the first time that Rwanda was invited to the games scheduled to take place in Zimbabwe from May 3 to 13, 2019. For Coach Joshua Mwanja, the road will be tough if he is to qualify his side for the first time.
There are nine teams in the tournament; Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and host Zimbabwe.
The tournament which is to be played under 20 over format is placed in two pools, one of five and one of four round robin.
The top team in each group will contest the final; one team will qualify for the Global women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier and Global Women’s World Cup Qualifier.
For team head Mwanja, qualifying from Pool A will be a tough test against Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Tanzania and Mozambique. Rwanda will face Nigeria in the opener on Sunday May 5, at 1:50pm, both sides faced each other in the five-day series to which Nigeria the host won by 3-2 games.
Looking at the rankings, Zimbabwe is one of the tough teams in this group since ICC ranks it tenth.
Tanzania women team is ranked 20th, having played 18 matches to score 1606 points to rate 189 by ICC as of April 20, 2019.
Nigeria is ranked 36th with 265 points. Mozambique is 43, while Rwanda will have to put up a good performance in order for ICC to rate them for the first time in history.
After falling to Nigeria in January, head coach Mwanja is optimistic the team will perform well in Zimbabwe.
“After the Nigeria series, focus was put on areas where we needed improvement which included fitness and batting. This is clear in our local trail matches as the players are consistently scoring over 100 runs which was not the case before the Nigeria series,” he said.
Another tough match will be that to be played at Old Hararians against Mozambique on Wednesday May 8. Victory against the southern African nation will give the Rwandan team the needed confidence to take on the other pool members.
Neighbors Tanzania will be a tricky game for the ladies in the last group meeting. However, the game against the host Zimbabwe on Saturday that week will be a mountain to the club for Rwanda.
On record, the hosts have a good woman’s team just like their counterparts. They team received a major confidence boost ahead of the tournament in April by convincingly winning the Victoria Tri-Series that ended in Uganda early in April.
Zimbabwe went into the finals against Uganda with a perfect out of four-record having defeated both Uganda and Kenya twice in the round robin games.
Captained by Mary-Jane Musonda, the team had a fine run of form after cruising to a comfortable 25 run victory over the hosts. Players that coach Mwanja and his ladies have to watch out for are Anesu Mushangwe, Chipo Tiripano and Modester Mupachikwa.
The Rwanda team is under residential intensive preparations which kicked off on Tuesday with two training sessions a day until their departure to Harare early next week.
When asked about some friendly series ahead of the tournament, Mwanja revealed they have secured the three-warm up matches against their Zimbabwe counterpart prior to the competition.
The team selection in camp comprises 14 players including team captain Sarah Uwera who replaced the long time experienced Veronique Iriho for reasons which are not yet known.
Mugisha Raissa and Flora Ishimwe who traveled to Nigeria and came back injured were dropped from the squad.
Guinness book record breaker Cathia Uwamahoro will have to up her batting skills when the tournament sets off.
Below is the full list of the Rwandan team however without a team doctor just like when they left for Nigeria series:
The final squad is as follows: Henriette Ishimwe, Veronique Iriho, Marie Diane Bimenyimana, Immaculee Muhawenimana, Gisele Ishimwe, Sarah Uwera (Captain) , Cathia Uwamahoro, Sifa Ingabire, Alice Ikuzwe, Delphine Mukarurangwa, Josiane Nyirankundineza, Ishimwe Diane Dusabemungu, Margueritte Vumiliya and Antoinette Uwimbabazi
Officials: Joshua Declan Mwanja Head of Coach, Byson Bugingo (Assistant Coach) and Victoire Gahonzire Team Manager.