Victoria Series: Captain Sharon Juma, Rwanda own day five

Sharon Juma (4th) from right with Ugandan and Rwanda players on the day she announced her international retirement

CRICKET Victoria Series: Captain Sharon Juma, Rwanda own day five

Davis Karashani 09:28 - 23.04.2023

In a day expected to be the ‘moving day’ for teams to make a last dash for the two coveted places for Sunday afternoon’s Victoria Series final, these spots were sealed by Uganda and Tanzania after day three of the tournament.

Following the overnight rains and persistent morning showers, the rain picked up its first points on the log washing out the Uganda versus Kenya fixture, which was significant in more ways than one.

First, Kenya picked up their first-ever point in 8 outings in the Victoria Series. Still, more significantly, a precedent was set by the now former Kenya national team captain Sharon Juma.

In an era of overrated sports persons, the ability to recognise when great times are long behind them and the dawn of their careers is upon them remains elusive for many globally, particularly in East Africa.

Sharon Juma chose not to follow a similar script for many before her and decided to leave the international crickets’ biggest African arena on her terms – a precedent well set and ought to be followed.

Kenya captain Sharon Juma hangs her bat

11:46 - 22.04.2023

CRICKET Kenya captain Sharon Juma hangs her bat

The game between Kenya and Uganda at the Victoria Series 2023 has just been washed out because of a heavy downpour and persistent drizzle that made the conditions unplayable at the Lugogo Cricket Oval.

She had known the multi-talented Kenyan athlete and witnessed the early days of her career that has spurned over a decade, notching up over 100 appearances for her country.

I have watched Sharon transition from a youngster with a loud, sharp voice cheering on Ugandan franchise teams, Nile Knights and Rwenzori Warriors in the East Africa Premier League between 2011-13, to a core member and rise to the helm of an evolving side.

Reading out of the statistics book, Sharon has donned the Kenyan shirt alongside other greats of her generation, such as Captain Emily Ruto (RIP), Sarah Bhakita, Margaret Ngoche, Mercelyne Odhiambo, and Mary Ngoche.

They all missed the opportunity to leave international cricket under a guard of honour, surrounded by their teammates and players from other nations.

Off the field, Sharon Juma, the mother of two, has added her weight to female athletes that have successfully walked in and out of the labour ward and gone on to rekindle their sporting careers at the highest level, which is inspirational to young sports ladies aspiring for greatness.

Sharon Juma will be a notable miss to the Kenyan lineup but can walk away from the sport with her head held up and have set a precedent of a retirement platform to be admired by many.

Rwanda victorious against Tanzania

In a word with Rwandan coach Leonard minutes, after the team picked up a victory on their first against Kenya on Day Two, he emphasised just how reduced games fell right into the hands of the batting strength of his team.

Boy, was that on display 48 hours later as Rwanda stunned Tanzania in a six-over game arising from the persistent drizzles.

Toss won by Rwanda and opting to go against cricketing logic of bowling first, the ladies from the land of 1,000 hills were up-to-date with the assignment and not just tinkered with their batting order but tore that batting script by sending batters with much higher strike rates with the ability to find boundaries in the 30 balls per innings game.

Masterstroke this was as the top 3 batters of Gisele Ishimwe, Belise Murakatete, and Henriette Ishimwe (Player of the match) put together 47 runs in 33 balls at a cumulative strike rate of 141 per cent with the momentum shifting big finish off a last over of 17 runs from the debutant gave Rwanda a more than competitive 53 runs.

The Tanzanian run chase was always going to depend on their opening batters, who possess the skills and striking ability to gun down that vertical total.

Still, the fall of one part of that duo in Captain Fatuma Kibasu on the second delivery of the run chase meant her partner Saud Mtae (19), was going to do the heavy lifting alone, a task that proved too steep for the 16th ranked T20 women’s team by seven runs.

Some pondering for the Tanzanian think tank on the timing of the over of the Tanzanian debutant over being the difference in the game.

Rwanda will leave the Victoria Series as quickly the biggest beneficiary from the event as they continue their rise up the rankings.

The big final

The Victoria Pearls walk into this final as the team with momentum, having gotten one over Tanzania in the preliminary round.

Still, as the team’s lineup for that coveted final, all that’s been done in the previous days will count for nothing if either team doesn’t win this one.

Just like in the preliminary round of this fixture, the matchup battle between the Victoria Pearls opening bowling duo Irene Alumo and Evelyn Anyipo up against the blazing hot bats of Fatuma Kibasu and Saud Mtae.

The contest's winner will heavily dictate the proceedings of where this game goes.

The temptation of front-loading the bowling and perhaps bowling the fierce pace of Irene Alumo through her four over quota to penetrate that Tanzania top order ought to be a consideration to allow the Victoria Pearls to make inroads into that Tanzanian mid-order yet to stand up to be counted.

For Tanzania, the success of the openers coupled with optimal use of attacking overs bowled by the Victoria Pearls 5th and 6th bowling options will be critical on who sets down the marker and carries silverware at the closing ceremony of the Victoria series season two.