With the qualifiers taking place on home soil at Harare Sports Club, Old Hararians and Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe was expected to easily seal a berth for the final tournament.
However, a three-run defeat to UAE via the Duckworth Lewis method in the Super Six stage of the tournament meant the Chevrons would not progress to the final.
It was a demoralising and crushing defeat as in the end, the West Indies and Afghanistan booked their places for the final tournament.
ZC chairperson Tavengwa Mukuhlani said that failure two years ago highlighted the depths that the local game has fallen.
“I think as we start this (National Premier League), we are building from our lowest ebb when we lost to the UAE here in the qualifiers.
“As an administrator and as a fan, I will tell you that’s unforgivable because basically what you had to do that day was beat the UAE and you have a million dollar cheque. Beat the UAE and you go and conquer the world and we simply couldn’t cross the line.
“That speaks volumes as to where we were as a country and we have to have that realisation that we have gone so low, we can’t go further,” Mukuhlani said at the launch of the NPL.
The inaugural NPL kicked off yesterday with a number of matches taking place across the country.
At Harare Sports Club, Brian Mudzinganyama (32), Gary Chirimuuta (31) and Lavert Masunda (29) top scored for Rainbow as they beat Gladiators by three runs.
After batting first, Rainbow reached a total of 134 for the loss of six wickets inside 30.1 overs, with Malcolm Chikuwa the pick of the bowlers for Gladitors as he finished with figures of three for 28.
In Bulawayo, Queens lost by a single run to Amakhosi after the latter had set a target of 98 in 36 overs.
Allan Chigoma (20), Thabo Mboyi (15) and Thamsanqa Nunu (11) top scored for Amakhosi while Luke Jongwe took three wickets for 15 runs.
Chamu Chibhabha (24), Emmanuel Sharara (19) and Sean Williams (14) were the highest scorers for Queens while Ainsley Ndlovu and Ernest Masuku picked up four wickets each.
The nine teams taking part in the NPL are Amakhosi and Queens from Bulawayo, Harare’s Takashinga, Rainbow, Gladiators and Harare Kings, Great Zimbabwe from Masvingo, Kwekwe’s MidWest and Easterns from Mutare.
ZIMBABWE Cricket (ZC) is still feeling the effects of the infamous defeat to minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) two years ago which cost the team a place at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England.