Namibia will host the final African T20 World Cup qualifier in Windhoek next week when seven countries battle it out for two available spots at the 2024 T20 World Cup, which will be held in the United States and the West Indies next year.
Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and Tanzania will battle it out for the final two places after an arduous qualifying process that saw 16 countries in action at two sub-regional qualifying events in the Rwandan capital, Kigali last year.
Eight teams competed in Qualifier A, namely Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Saint Helena and Seychelles in November last year, with Kenya, with a world ranking of 30th, and Botswana (47th) the favourites heading into the tournament.
Rwanda, which is only ranked 62nd in the world, however, produced some major upsets to finish as the runners-up to Kenya and book their ticket to the final African qualifier in Windhoek.
Kenya finished on top of the log on 12 points, after five wins and two no results, while Rwanda finished second a point behind, with five wins and only one defeat to Kenya.
It was the first time that Rwanda progressed to the final African qualifying tournament, while they also beat higher-ranked nations, Malawi (51st) who finished third, and Botswana (47th), who finished fourth.
Another eight nations competed in Qualifier B at the same venue a month later, namely Cameroon, Eswatini, Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Tanzania, and here there were no upsets, asthe two top ranked teams Tanzania (32nd in the world) and Nigeria (38th) progressed to the final African qualifier.
Both teams finished on 13 points after winning six of their seven matches with one no result each, while Tanzania just edged Nigeria to the top spot with a slightly better nett run rate.
Their encounter on 8 December was delicately poised with Nigeria all out for 101, and Tanzania at 19 for three wickets, when rain brought an end to proceedings.
Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Nigeria will now join Africa’s three top-ranked nations (after South Africa) at the final T20 Africa World Cup Qualifier in Windhoek next week, with Zimbabwe ranked 11th in the world, Namibia 12th and Uganda 23rd.
The hosts, Namibia, meanwhile, are well prepared following a 3-2 series victory against Zimbabwe in Windhoek last month.
It was the second time in as many years that Namibia had beaten Zimbabwe in a T20 international series, following their first victory in Bulawayo last year, and saw their world ranking climbing to a highest position ever of 12th in the world.
The first qualifying matches get underway on Wednesday, 22 November, while the tournament continues through to 30 November.