BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE found unlikely batting heroes in tail-enders Francisca Chipare and Nomvelo Sibanda to ensure they avoid an embarrassing defeat against minnows United States with a narrow one-wicket win in their second Group B match of the ICC Women’s World Cup qualifier at Takashinga Sports Club in Harare yesterday.
Batting at number 11, Chipare scored 16 of 15 balls while Sibanda held her nerves with six runs as the pair launched a spirited late-order fight back after Zimbabwe had collapsed from 57 without loss to 97 for eight while chasing 131 runs.
After narrowly losing their first match against Thailand on Sunday, anything else except a victory would have seen the Lady Chevrons crash out of contention for a place in the Super Six stage of the qualification competition.
And the hosts appeared well on course for a dominant win after winning the toss and electing to field before dismissing their opponents for a paltry score with player of the match Loreen Tshuma claiming three wickets for 19 runs in 10 overs.
Openers Sharne Mayers (32) and Modester Mupachikwa (22) further strengthened Zimbabwe’s grip on the match with an opening partnership stand of 57 runs before Josephine Nkomo chipped in with 22 runs.
From being on course to comfortably register their first win when Zimbabwe were suddenly staring a humiliating defeat after collapsing from 57 for one to 97 for eight in a space of nine overs, the 31-year-old seamer Moksha Chaudhary grabbed four wickets for 46 runs in her 10 overs while left arm pace bowler Tara Norris, who plays for Sussex in England, claimed two wickets for 22 runs from her 10 overs.
But even as the game seemed lost, Zimbabwe who were cheered on all the way by a small but passionate home crowd fought until the end to revive their slim hopes of reaching the super six stage of the ICC Women’s World Cup qualifier.
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