THE Zimbabwe national women's cricket team, will be hoping to get their 2019 International Cricket Council (ICC) Women's World Cup Africa qualifier, off to a winning start when they take on neighbours Mozambique in the opening match of the tournament at Old Hararians Sports Club on Sunday.
Led by all-rounder Mary-Anne Musonda, the Lady Chevrons, as the national women's side is affectionately known, will start the tournament as favourites due to the strength of their side and the added advantage of playing in familiar conditions.
Zimbabwe will also head into the tournament, on the back of a fine run of brilliant form which has seen them winning all of the nine Twenty-20 international matches that they have played this year.
Zimbabwe were drawn in a relatively easy group that includes Tanzania, Nigeria, Mozambique and Rwanda for the qualifier while Uganda, Kenya, Namibia and Sierra Leone make up Group B.
The hosts' biggest challenge is likely to come from Uganda who toppled Zimbabwe for the first time to win the last regional qualifier tournament in Windhoek, Namibia, in September 2017.
Zimbabwe will however have the psychological advantage over the East Africans after convincingly beating them in their own backyard during a recent triangular series which also featured Kenya.
Lady Chevrons coach Adam Chifo told newzimbabwe.com in an interview yesterday that he was wary of the danger of undermining their opponents during the regional qualifier due to the unpredictability of theTwenty20 format.
"Of course, there is a danger of complacency, if you win games like we have been doing in the last few months but that is something we have also been addressing as part of our preparations. We have to focus on each and every game as it comes.
"It's tricky with T20 matches because one incident can change the whole complexion of the game. So we just have to play every game as if it's a final, without unnecessarily having to underrate any of our opponents," said Chifo.
The winners of the nine-team regional T20 tournament will proceed to the next and final qualifying stage, the 2019 ICC Women's World Twenty20 Global qualifier to be held in August and September 2019 in Scotland.
The top two teams from the global qualifier tournament will progress to the 2020 ICC Women's T20 World Cup in Australia.
Meanwhile after Zimbabwe's opening encounter against Mozambique on Sunday, Uganda will take on Sierra Leone in the afternoon match on the same day, also at Old Hararians.
Across the capital, match day one will see Takashinga Cricket Club hosting Namibia versus Kenya in the morning and Nigeria against Rwanda in the afternoon.
The next day, Zimbabwe will face Tanzania in the afternoon fixture at Takashinga, with Kenya and Sierra Leone having met in the morning match.
On the same day, Old Hararians will host the Mozambique-Nigeria and Uganda-Namibia matches.
The morning matches will be starting at 0930 hours and the afternoon fixtures at 1350 hours.
The group winners will meet in the final scheduled for Harare Sports Club on Sunday, 12 May, starting at 1100 hours.
Zimbabwe squad: Mary-Anne Musonda (captain), Ashley Ndiraya, Chipo Tiripano, Precious Marange, Anesu Mushangwe, Nomvelo Sibanda, Sharne Mayers, Loryn Phiri, Josephine Nkomo, Chiedza Mzembe, Chiedza Dhururu, Nomatter Mutasa, Tasmeen Granger, Modester Mupachikwa.