BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE begin their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier campaign against Thailand at Harare Sports Club today with more at stake than just a spot at next year’s edition of the women’s global cricket showcase in New Zealand.
While the main target for the Lady Chevrons is to secure one of the three available slots for next year’s global showpiece, they will also be hoping to claim a top five place in the 10 team competition which would earn them a place in the next Women’s Championship (IWC).
The ICC Women’s Championship will expand from eight teams to 10 next year which presents emerging sides like Zimbabwe an opportunity to play regularly against the top teams in the women’s game.
Lady Chevrons skipper Mary-Anne Musonda said: “These qualifiers are very important for us.
“We have got a shot at qualifying for the World Cup, which is a very big platform and something that we want, and the opportunity of finishing in the top five, which will mean we will have tours as part of the ICC Women’s Championship. That would be good for our team – getting to play top sides.”
Musonda believes playing in familiar conditions at home could give the Lady Chevrons the extra motivation they need to achieve their objectives.
“Hosting (this event) is such a great thing for us – home conditions and fans cheering for us!
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“We have a fair chance of making it to the top five and fighting through to get to the top three. We are hoping to start by winning our two games in Group B, aiming to take it one game at a time and hope for the best in the end. We have a good mix of youth and experience in our side.”
Zimbabwe are in Pool B together with Pakistan, Bangladesh, the United States and Thailand while Pool A features Ireland, West Indies, Netherlands and Sri Lanka.
The hosts will be seeking a winning start to their campaign today against Thailand while Bangladesh and Pakistan play at the Old Hararians Club simultaneously.
Although Musonda and her teammates head into the opening game on the back of a three-nil defeat against Bangladesh just before the tournament, they will fancy their chances of getting the better of Thailand.
Zimbabwe would be taking a lot of confidence from the 2-2 series draw against the Thai side in the recent unofficial one-day series played at Takashinga Sports Club.
Meanwhile West Indies and Pakistan will head into the qualifying tournament as the favourites as they are comfortably the top two ranked sides in the competition, according to the latest ICC Women’s ODI Rankings while Bangladesh Sri Lanka and Ireland are also ranked highly
Zimbabwe squad: Mary-Anne Musonda (captain), Josephine Nkomo, Modester Mupachikwa, Precious Marange, Sharne Mary Mayers, Loryn Phiri, Nyasha Gwanzura Nomatter Mutasa, Loreen Tshuma, Nomvelo Sibanda, Chiyedza Dhururu, Esther Mbofana, Audrey Mazvishaya, Francesca Chipare, Christabel Chatonzwa.