All set for Women’s T20 Cup, Fifty50 Challenge finals

All is set for what promises to be an exhilarating weekend of cricket when the finals of Zimbabwe’s top-flight women’s tournaments are contested at Takashinga Sports Club in Harare’s Highfield suburb. In a show of how closely fought the women’s 2020/21 season was, all four participating teams – Eagles, Mountaineers, Rhinos and Tuskers – are involved in the closing weekend.

First, Eagles Women will take on Tuskers Women in the final of the Women’s T20 Cup on Saturday afternoon, starting at 1200 hours. Eagles go into the match as the favourites having beaten their Bulawayo-based opponents home and away during the round-robin stage.

Eagles will be led by captain Modester Mupachikwa, who sits second behind Rhinos’ Mary-Anne Musonda in the batting standings. With an average of 64.67 with the bat, Mupachikwa will be the obvious headache for Tuskers.

Not that it bothers Tuskers captain, Novelo Sibanda, who, when asked about the threat of the Eagles skipper and other key players, said: “Noone is dangerous in the game of cricket. I personally treat each player the same.”

“We’re the underdogs, but look we are actually in the final,” she added. “One might think this player is better than the other one, but the one you are not minding turns out to be the best for the day.

“I actually treat the 11 (opposing players) who are in the field the same.” Sibanda, along with Tasmeen Granger, will be the key players for Tuskers, particularly with the ball.

Granger leads the tournament’s wickets chart with seven, alongside with Eagles’ Precious Marange and Mountaineers rising star Francesca Chipare. Mupachikwa is banking on her side’s good run in the tournament to carry them forward. She however said the favourites tag which they carry into the match does not bother her.

“We are not concerned about the favourites tag. We are just focusing on the job at hand and will basically stick to our game plan,” Mupachikwa said. “At the end of the day, whether you win or lose, it is not the end of the world.”

On Sunday, it will be the turn of the other two provincial sides, with Mountaineers Women facing Rhinos Women in the final of the Fifty50 Challenge at the same venue. Both teams took one match off each other in the league stage of the 50-over tournament. They ended the round-robin stage with identical numbers of wins and losses.

Mountaineers only finished tops thanks to a better net run rate. This should make for an evenly balanced match. Rhinos captain Josephine Nkomo says lifting the Fifty50 Challenge silverware with her youthful side will come down to who wants it more on the day.

That said, she acknowledged getting the better of their opponents will be a big task in the final. “I think Mountaineers are a well-oiled machine, an evenly balanced team and I can’t say who from that team is the most dangerous,” Nkomo said.

“As a team we are just looking forward to keeping things simple, just doing the basics right and minimising mistakes. “I believe the team that will make the least mistakes will win the title.”

Mountaineers skipper Pellagia Mujaji said even though they will go into the final carrying the favourites tag, her side will be guarding against complacency. “I do agree we got into the final as the favourites, but it was due to a lot of the hard work we put in as a team,” Mujaji said.

“Winning this final will . . . set a good tone for the Mountaineers ladies since it will be our first. So we are hoping for a good result at the end of the day.”