Rwanda’s World Cup Report: African stars prove a World Cup revelation with two breakthrough wins
Wins – 2
Losses – 3
Finishing position – Fourth in Super Six Group 2
No team from Rwanda had ever competed at an ICC World Cup before the country’s U19 Women traveled to South Africa.
But any fears that the Rwandan squad would be overawed or outclassed were soon put to bed by a group of players who lit up the tournament with a high standard of cricket, a superb attitude and willingness to learn, and two statement victories.
Picking up two wins from five matches was a huge achievement for Rwanda, as was making it out of the initial group stage and into the Super Six.
But for those wins to come against established cricket nations in Zimbabwe and West Indies makes the achievement even more noteworthy.
They finished the tournament with a better record than eight other teams, and it will be fascinating to see where this exciting and talented group of players can go next.
VIEW FROM THE GROUND
Sonali Dhulap was part of the ICC’s team on the ground in South Africa, and had this to say about her experiences working with and alongside the squad:
“‘Have you ever been to Rwanda?’ was the first question Steven Musaale, President of the Rwanda Cricket Association, asked me when I was about to interview him. While I have not yet, now I think I really should.
When you have been covering cricket for a while, these are the kind of stories that you wait for and Rwanda’s success story has been nothing short of amazing. They depart South Africa with not one but two wins, something which many people thought was improbable before the tournament started.
It was obvious to anyone who saw them that the two things they had decided to do once they got here were: enjoy and learn. And they did both in plentiful quantities. The win against Zimbabwe sparked celebrations all over their country, and after they won against West Indies, they broke into this impromptu dance at the boundary rope that was just so entertaining to watch.
“I hope they get many more tournaments to play in, and I hope we all get the chance to visit their beautiful country.”
STAR PERFORMER – Gisele Ishimwe
There is little doubt as to Rwanda’s key player at the tournament, with Gisele Ishimwe standing tall time and again with the bat.
In total she hit 133 runs at an average of 33.25, producing a string of crucial knocks at key times, top-scoring in both of her team’s wins.
NOTABLE MENTIONS – Sylvia Usabyimana and Henriette Ishimwe
Usabyimana was a constant threat with the ball throughout the tournament, finishing with seven wickets to her name, at an average of just 11.4.
The spinner wasn’t afraid to give the ball some flight, luring plenty of batters into misjudged shots.
But arguably the moment of the tournament for Rwanda came courtesy of Henriette Ishimwe, who completed the win over Zimbabwe by taking four wickets in four balls – a remarkable and rare achievement in itself.
It was a testament to the team ethos in Rwanda’s squad, that Ishimwe was keener to celebrate the team’s result than she was to revel in her own individual moment.
WHAT THE MENTOR SAID
West Indies spinner and ICC Mentor Anisa Mohammed worked with the Rwanda squad at the tournament.
“It’s very important that they get this exposure from a young age, it will raise the level of cricket in women’s cricket around the world,” she said.
“A lot of them have never played at this high level before, and the world has had an opportunity to see them play – they do have some quality players in their side. For them to be able to play at a World Cup is an inspiration for them.
“I think this is a very good initiative to have mentors here with these teams. Some of these players have never played in front of a camera, never played in front of a crowd. To have us help them learn what it’s about, many of the players have benefitted from it.”
Pakistan – Lost by 8 wickets
Rwanda got their campaign off to an encouraging start despite the result, as they reached three figures with the bat, with Gisele Ishimwe top-scoring with 40 from 49.
However, they were unable to accelerate off the platform set by the top order, and with the ball they fell victim to a superb knock from Pakistan opener Eyman Fatima, whose 65 did the legwork in the chase.
Zimbabwe – Won by 39 runs
A stunning first World Cup win for Rwanda came against African opponents in Zimbabwe.
Again it was the top order who set the platform, with Gisele Ishimwe the top-scorer once more with 34 from 23 after the openers had put on 49 for the first wicket.
119/8 was a competitive first-inning score, and the bowlers followed up with a superb display, knocking Zimbabwe over for just 80 runs and with eight balls of the innings still remaining.
Victory was sealed in dramatic fashion by Henriette Ishimwe, who took the final four wickets in four balls in the penultimate over.
England – Lost by 138 runs
England showed their class in the third group game, with the openers getting off to a lightning start to rack up 123 for the first wicket and going at almost ten-an-over.
Sylvia Usabyimana took three wickets in a decent individual showing, but a target of 184 was always likely to be too much, and so it proved. The need for quick runs saw wickets tumble early, and Rwanda never truly recovered.
New Zealand – Lost by 4 wickets
A massive positive for Rwanda was how quickly they appeared to have learned from their experiences in the loss to England. And they produced a far more competitive display against another tough opponent in New Zealand.
Again Rwanda lost early wickets, but they consolidated on this occasion, with Giselle Ishimwe (27) and Henriette Ishimwe (30) helping them to a total of 95/7.
While that was below par, the recovery meant that Rwanda’s bowlers had at least something to work with, and they had New Zealand in a bit of trouble with the ball, with only two of the Kiwis’ top six reaching double figures.
Opener Emma McLeod’s rapid 59 made a Rwandan victory unlikely, but they made New Zealand sweat, taking six wickets, with Rosine Irera the star with 3/17.
West Indies – Won by 4 wickets
Rwanda rounded off their tournament with another brilliant win against an established cricket power.
The bowlers did the damage first up on this occasion, ripping through the West Indies line-up, with only one batter reaching double figures as they were skittled for 70 in 16.3 overs.
The whole attack bowled tidily, with Zurufat Ishimwe taking 2/20, Sylvia Usabyimana snaffling 4/20 and the excellent Marie Josee Tumukunde going for just eight runs as she took four wickets in 3.3 overs.
Three ducks in the top six and a couple of run-outs saw Rwanda make slightly heavy work of the chase, slipping to 40/6 at one stage. But the excellence of Gisele Ishimwe saw them home, with her finishing unbeaten on 31* in a winning partnership with Rosine Irera.