NAMIBIA's hopes of qualifying for next year's Women's T20 World Cup are over after they suffered a 50-run defeat to Zimbabwe in the African Qualifying final in Harare on Sunday.
After winning the toss Namibia sent Zimbabwe in to bat and the home team posted 114 runs for five wickets off their 20 overs.
This proved too much for Namibia who could only reach 64 for nine wickets as Zimbabwe comfortably won the trophy and a spot at the final T20 World Cup qualifier in Scotland in August.
Namibia got an early breakthrough when Sune Wittmann bowled Modester Mupachikwa for four runs, but Sharne Mayers and Chipo Mugeri put Zimbabwe on track with a 66-run partnership.
They seemed set for a big partnership, but Yasmeen Khan got the breakthrough, running Mugeri out for 36 which came off 28 balls and included five fours, while Mayers was dismissed off Kayleen Green's bowling shortly after, also for 36 runs.
Zimbabwe's captain Mary-Anne Musonda was dismissed by Irene van Zyl for only four runs, but Josephine Nkomo (14) and Anesu Mushangwe (12 not out) added a 21-run stand for the fifth wicket to post a competitive total of 114 for five wickets.
Kayleen Green was Namibia's most successful bowler, taking two wickets for 22 runs, while Sune Wittmann took 1/15 and Irene van Zyl, 1/25.
Namibia's innings got off to a rocky start as Green (1), Adri van der Merwe (10) and Irene van Zyl (0) were all dismissed early on to leave them struggling at 16 for three wickets.
Yasmeen Khan and Sune Wittmann revived their innings with a 29-run partnership, but Khan's dismissal for 11 was the prelude to several more wickets falling in quick succession.
When Sune Wittmann was dismissed for a top score of 18, Namibia had crashed to 51 for seven wickets with only three overs in hand.
Wilka Mwatile added nine runs further down the order, but by then they were way behind the required run rate as the team reached 64 for nine wickets off their 20 overs.
Mushangwe, with fantastic figures of three wickets for six runs off four overs, and Nkomo (three wickets for 12 runs off three overs) were Zimbabwe's best bowlers.
Despite Namibia's failure to win the tournament, they have displayed a remarkable improvement over the past two years.
At the last Africa T20 women's qualifier that Namibia hosted two years ago, they finished fourth after winning just one out of their three group matches.
They beat Tanzania by six wickets, but lost to Uganda by 18 runs, to Zimbabwe by eight wickets and to Kenya by 18 runs, before once again beating Tanzania by six wickets in the fourth place play-off.
This time Namibia won all their group matches in Harare to finish on top of Group B with six points.
They beat Kenya by 39 runs, Uganda by 14 runs and Sierra Leone by 10 wickets.
The 2020 Women's T20 World Cup will be held in Australia in February and March next year.