Mozambique Women – 137-6 in 20 overs (Eulalia Molane 48, Palmira Cuinica 48, Christina Magaia 20; Marie Bimenyimana 3/21, Josiane Nyirankundineza 1/26)
Rwanda Women – 138-9 in 19.3 overs (Henriette Ishimwe 48, Marie Bimenyimana 23, Diane Dusabemungu 10; Cecelia Murrombe 3/27, Christina Magaia 1/12, Isabel Chuma 1/15)
Rwanda Women won by one wicket
In the most exciting finish of the ICC Women’s Qualifier Africa 2019 tournament to date, a brilliant innings of 48 from Henriette Ishimwe enabled Rwanda to come back almost from the dead and snatch a one-wicket victory over Mozambique at Old Hararians Sports Club yesterday.
This means that Rwanda will now meet hosts, Zimbabwe to decide who meets Namibia in the final.
All credit must be given to Mozambique, though, who pulled themselves together after two disastrous matches against Zimbabwe and Nigeria, and came so close to recording their first victory of the tournament.
Probably they had noted that in the eight previous matches of the tournament, seven had been won by the team batting first, so this was what they decided to do after winning the toss.
They lost Maria Matine for three in the third over, but then came an excellent partnership of Eulalia Molane and Palmira Cuinica, who both scored 48 and shared a second-wicket partnership of 55 in eight overs.
Molane was the leading figure, as she hit four fours and two sixes in her innings off only 32 balls and gave the innings the impetus it needed.
Cuinica played a quieter game, taking 55 balls for her 48, but she stayed to share a 50-run partnership with Christina Magaia for the fourth wicket in only six overs.
The result was a very impressive innings total of 137 for six wickets, the only bowler able to make much of an impact being Marie Bimenyimana, with three wickets for 21 in her four overs.
Rwanda struggled for most of their way as they chased the target, but in their favour was the fact that they maintained a good run rate all the way through, and so avoided the trap that so many teams fall into of getting hopelessly behind even if they have wickets in hand.
Bimenyimana, at number three, played a good innings of 23 off 19 balls, but the match-winner was to be Ishimwe, who came in at number five with the score 39 for three in the seventh over.
She played with fine judgment in keeping the score moving with ones and twos, hitting only two boundaries in her innings and finding no partner after Bimenyimana left at 68 capable of scoring more than seven runs off their own bats.
Yet she scored at more than a run a ball, as the sixth wicket fell at 88, the seventh at 107 and the eighth at 125, at which stage 13 runs were needed off the final 10 deliveries.
From the first ball of the final over Ishimwe was run out looking to keep the strike, leaving the last two batsmen to score the final three runs off five deliveries.
She had scored 48 runs off only 40 balls and taken her team to the brink of a victory that at most stages of the innings had looked rather unlikely.
Despite the best efforts of Mozambique, Margueritte Vumiliya scored a single and Josiane Nyirakundineza a two off the next two deliveries to see Rwanda home in the closest of finishes.
For Mozambique, Cecilia Murrombe was the best bowler with three wickets for 27 runs.
Rwanda now have two victories to their credit, and shared the position at the top of the Group A table with Zimbabwe, four points each.
Tomorrow’s match between these two teams at Old Hararians may well decide which of the teams will contest Sunday’s final against Namibia.