Lady Chevrons end 2-year hiatus

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ZIMBABWE senior women’s cricketers end their two-year hiatus from international cricket when they host top side Pakistan in the opening one-dayer at Harare Sports Club this morning.
The Lady Chevrons had their last taste of action in May 2019, winning the ICC Women Africa Qualifiers in Harare. However, the team was subsequently ruled out of the Global Qualifiers that were played in Scotland following Zimbabwe’s suspension by the International Cricket Council over government interference.

As part of the build-up for the 2021 ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier scheduled for June and July, Pakistan agreed to play the Lady Chevrons who are also in dire need of game time. The top three teams from the 10-team qualifiers will book a place for the 50-over ICC Women’s World Cup scheduled for New Zealand next year.

“It feels good coming out of the wilderness obviously, two years in international cricket is a long time but am happy we are back on the map again to do what we love doing, that is playing cricket and doing the best for Zimbabwe,” Lady Chevrons head coach Adam Chifo told the Daily News yesterday.

“Quite a big challenge, Pakistan are currently ranked 7th on the ODI status and we are yet to get a ranking. They have individual players who have a hundred plus matches under their belt and have played in a lot of T20 tournaments around the world. “It’s a challenge that will perhaps give us a chance to gauge where we are and what we may need to work on towards the qualifiers in June.”

Former Lady Chevrons captain, now women cricket’s convenor of selectors Julia Chibhabha, and her selection panel have been provided with a wider pool to select national players from following the successful hosting of the women’s provincial league last year.

Mountaineers from Manicaland won the Fifty50 Challenge Cup while Harare’s Flying Eagles bagged the T20 championship. The competition saw many raising their hands to be counted including Mountaineers captain Pellagia Mujaji and Eagles seamer Esther Mbofana who have earned a recall into the national team. Francesca
Chipare, also from Mountaineers, who had a good outing with the ball and Eagles’ 15-year-old all-rounder
Kellies Ndlovu did just enough to be included in the squad. “The domestic league was long overdue and provided not only game time for national team players but a platform for new players to break through,” added Chifo.

Meanwhile, with a couple of half tons under her belt from the domestic competition and consistent bowling display that ultimately earned her the Fifty50 Challenge Cup Most Valuable Player, Lady Chevrons captain Mary-Anne Musonda said it has been a difficult experience in the bubble but they are keen to give Pakistan a run for their money.

“We are so excited to be hosting Pakistan for the first time. The girls are really excited after almost 22 months without playing any international games,” Musonda said in a zoom media briefing.

“The mood is very good, the girls are excited, we really want to compete and we hope to keep everyone interested in the series. Life in the bubble has been a different experience. I think being in the lockdown …you have certain space you have to be in. You have places where you have to be and not to be. The restrictions have been quite difficult for
starters but once you get used to it, it then makes sense why you have to restrict yourself to certain areas.

“I think from the start when we failed to go for the T20 Global Qualifiers, there was some resilience that grew among the girls, we had to be there for each other and talk about it and how much it had affected us. “Coming into 2020 and the pandemic happened it was almost familiar. It was like it had been here before when we were preparing to go for the qualifiers but we couldn’t go.

“It was almost like it was repeating itself so we had some kind of familiarity, disappointment unfortunately. In these two years we have really tried to be very strong as a team, we always used to check on each other and told ourselves to be strong because life will not always be the same but certainly we were going to get back on the field and do what we know and love the most, which is playing cricket.”

The series will see the two sides lock horns in three one-dayers running from this morning, Friday and Sunday. T20 matches follow shortly on February 17, 19 and 20. The Lady Chevrons were earlier scheduled to tour Namibia last month but this was called off following the suspension of all sporting activities by the government due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Zimbabwe Women’s Squad: Mary-Anne Musonda (captain), Ashley Ndiraya, Precious Marange, Pelajia Mujaji, Chiedza Dhururu, Modester Mupachikwa, Kellies Ndlovu, Tasmeen Granger, Esther Mbofana, Francesca Chipare, Loryn Phiri, Nomvelo Sibanda, Josephine Nkomo, Audrey Mazvishaya, Christabel Chatonzwa

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