The Tafawa Balewa Square cricket oval was alive today when Nigeria’s women team defeat Sierra Leone in their opening game of the T20I Invitational Tournament at9:30 a.m.
The West African derby is a familiar feud amongst cricket stakeholders and fans albeit Nigeria taking the upper hand in their recent meetings.
Sierra Leone women loses by 41 runs to Nigeria. The Nigerian women were able to secure 131/3[20.00v] while the ladies Patriot of Sierra Leone secured 90/6[20.00v]. After enduring Nigeria’s defeat in the early match of the today, the Ladies Patriots will take on Ghana the following day and on Thursday March 31, the team will come up against Rwanda in their first cross-border tourney for the year 2022.
After a rest day on 1st April, The Ladies Patriots will resume action at the refurbished Tafawa Balewa Square when they take on Cameroon in their final match of the tournament which will run in 20-over format.
Most recently, the duo met at the ICC Women’s T20 World Africa Qualifier in Botswana in September 2021, with the Female Yellow Greens claiming a five-wicket victory.
The defeat on the side of the Sierra Leoneans was no surprise to cricket enthusiasts as Nigerian women team is ranked 37th in the world by the ICC, seven places ahead of their counterparts.
However, women’s cricket, for both sides, is still developing and tournaments like the Invitational is one that could improve their level of play and overall standard among other member nations.
Nigeria is confident after winning this match with a lot of preparation under her belt. Some of the players have been engaged in various tournaments prior to this competition with a few that participated in the National Under-17 championship in Abuja in February.
The national team has also spent over three weeks in camp, drilled and tuned into competition mode by coaches Onome Oghenekevwe and Ibodeme Theohilus, under the supervision of Asanka Gurusinha, the country’s Head Coach and High Performance Manager
Etim Blessing, one of Nigeria’s finest cricketers and captain of the team, is looking forward to an improvement from her record breaking performance of four maiden overs, four wickets 0 runs conceded in the last tournament against Cameroun.
Notably, she was Player of the Match in the game against Sierra Leone, while in Botswana in 2021, but her individual contributions needs to be transformed into a collective performance by the team.
Other players that will be looking to prove their mettle is bating sensation Lucky Piety, Salome Sunday and Omnoye Asika etc.
But, Team Nigeria will have to look out for players like Aminata Kamara, who had a batting performance of 28 runs in 36 balls against Nigeria at the ICC Africa World Cup Qualifiers last year, as well Fatou Pessima, with a bowling figure of 2/25 (3 overs) in the same game as well.
Pessima made her T20I debut at the event and will be looking to prove herself more against Nigeria.
The second game on Match Day 1 will see 31st ranked Rwanda team against unranked Ghanaian side. Bookmakers will predict an easy victory for Rwanda and Nigeria in their opening fixture and could also predict a grand finale for both teams. However, cricket matches are not played in the tabloids and the T20 formats offers the element of surprise, so anybody is capable of an upset and vice versa.
One of the top contenders in this competition is team Ghana, whose squad was picked from a recently concluded Ashanti Region T20 League that has become quite popular in the country. They will try to punch above their weight when they face Rwanda.
Regardless of the position you take as a fan, stake holder or neutral, the NCF Women’s T20I tournament is set to make history and provide immeasurable level of excitement and competitive cricket for women’s cricket in West Africa and by extension, the entire continent.
Sierra Leone was under intensive training ahead of the the Tournament and could use this tournament to make up the grounds for their disappointing performance at the Botswana ICC Africa Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in September 2021
The Sierra Leone delegation, comprising 14 players and 4 officials, arrived late in Lagos on Sunday to join Ghana, Rwanda, Gambia and host Nigeria.
The tournament will be played on a round robin basis. The team with the highest points becomes the winner of the Women’s Series