The formbook was ripped to shreds as Kenya won the seventh edition of the Kwibuka Women's Twenty20 international tournament at Gahanga Stadium on Saturday evening in Kigali, Rwanda.
There was nothing fortuitous about Kenya's commanding seven-wicket victory over pre-tournament favourites Namibia enroute to scooping their record fourth title at the 10-day event played in memory of the victims of the 1994 Genocide.
Kenya had lost to Namibia in their last three meetings at different International Cricket Council (ICC) events and more recently in the round-robin phase of this meet when the southern Africans triumphed by 36 runs.
But in the do-or-die final that has International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking points, there was a rare quality to the Kenya women's display that couldn't possibly have been discerned in their previous outings.
Kenya captain Margaret Banja Ngoche lost the pre-match toss and Namibia's Irene van Zyl opted to bat first - a previously successful trend they had followed to the script in all matches.
Namibia caught cold
Banja had earlier reasoned that the toss didn't matter much in the final as she would have preferred to bowl first as well. And backed by a strong vociferous Kenyan contingent from the government plus those living and working in Rwanda, Banja's bowling arsenal found early rhythm and had extra spring in their step.
One early dropped chance of Adri van der Merwe (5 runs off 9 balls) by Queentor Abel at the long-on boundary was the only blip in Kenya's clinical bowling and fielding display that had only three extras as the East Africans bundled out the Capricorn Eagles for 69 runs all out in 15.5 overs.
Those watching on Women's CricZone YouTube and Facebook channels could have been forgiven for thinking they were watching a highlights show.
Wickets tumbled in quick succession thanks to an absurd mix of poor running between the wickets and an energetic fielding display that could have been envied by any top cricketing nation.
There was only one worthy partnership - a 29-run one for the third wicket - between wicketkeeper Yasmeen Khan (11 runs off 16 balls) and Kayleen-Ann Green (15 runs off 18 balls). But Kenya vice-captain Sarah Bhakita Wetoto ignited the collapse proper when she dived forward to send Green packing at 42 runs for four wickets in 8.5 overs.
Third Player of Match Award
Wetoto then went on to spin her way to a third Player of Match Award with a second five-wicket haul in the showpiece. She showed her mastery of the art of spin bowling with a lot of deceptive flight and accurate lines in her spell that accounted for six wickets for only 16 runs as the last five Namibian wickets fell for 24 runs. Wetoto also received the Match Ball - her second of the tournament - from Tournament Referee Emmanuel Byiringiro.
Dietlind Foerster (2) fell at 45 for 5 in 9.1 overs, Wilka Mwatile didn't disturb the scorers at 46 for 6 in 9.4 overs, captain van Zyl (3) was dismissed at 47 for 7 in 9.4 overs, Edelle van Zyl (6) followed for a quick shower at 62 for 8 in 13.5 overs, Merczerly Gorases (0) tried to hit out and paid the price at 64 for nine in 15.1 overs and Victoria Hamunyela (0) was the last batter out at 15.5 overs with Sylvia Shihepo left stranded on 16 runs not out off 21 balls.
Ngoche, Juma rise to the occasion
There were early jitters in the run chase of the small total - 70 - with Shihepo (0 for 13 runs in 2 overs) and Green (1 wicket for 18 runs in 4 overs) starting with two maidens upfront including the wicket of the dangerous Kenya opener Veronicah Abuga (0 runs off 5 balls) at 1 for 0 in 1.5 overs.
Abel was caught by Khan off Mwatile for 10 runs to silence the crowd at 22 for 2 in 4.5 overs but it was only for a while as Kenya captain Ngoche (37 runs not out off 30 balls) and multi-talented Sharon Juma (16 runs off 14 balls) made a mockery of the chase with 10 boundaries including a straight screen six from Ngoche to seal victory with 54 balls remaining.
Consolation for Rwanda
The hosts of the tournament that started in 2014, Rwanda, remained without a title but there was no shame in how they finished their campaign with a sweet double over Nigeria's Green and Yellow Girls to take the third-place diadem after their eight-run win in the curtain raiser for the final - The Bronze Medal Match.
With Nigeria looking to avenge their six-run preliminary round loss to the same team, Lady Luck wasn't on their start from the onset when news filtered through that their inspirational captain Samantha Agazuma had failed a last-minute fitness test for the game.
Stand-in skipper Agatha Obulor went on to lose the toss as the Rwandan pair of Gisele Ishimwe (39 runs off 40 balls) and Cathia Uwamahoro (35 runs not out off 30 balls) made hay to help their team set a formidable 112 runs for the loss of 5 wickets in the allotted 20 overs.
Tightening the noose
Rwanda didn't pick many early wickets but were largely a happy unit as they stifled the run chase with a sackful of dot balls. And late on with the required run rate creeping into 9 per over, Nigeria's Abdulquadri Kehinde (31 runs off 50 balls) and Blessing Etim (25 runs off 32 balls) tried to hit out albeit fruitlessly with the task at hand enormous.
Diane Marie Bimenyimana deservedly won the Player of Match Award after showing how important a player she is to her side with 12 runs in the first innings and then 2 wickets for 12 runs at the death of the innings to subject Nigeria to defeat.
At the colourful awards ceremony held at the Gahanga Stadium, Botswana took the Fair Play Award, Kenya's Abel (30 points) was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the Tournament, Best Bowler's Award was taken by Wetoto (17 wickets), Best Batter and Sixer was Namibia's Sune Wittmann with 167 runs. The individual award winners didn't not only take trophies but also classy mobile phones.
Scores in summary
Final - Gold Match
Namibia 60 runs all out in 15.5 overs (S. Shihepo 16, K. Green 15; S.B Wetoto 6 for 16)
Kenya 72 runs for 3 wickets in 11 overs (M. B Ngoche 37, S. Juma 16; V.Hamunyela 1/4)
Kenya won by 7 wickets (with 54 balls remaining)
Third Place Playoff Final (Bronze Match)
Rwanda 112 runs for 5 wickets (G. Ishimwe 39, C. Uwamahoro 35*; R. Samson 1 for 14)
Nigeria 104 runs for 6 wickets (A. Kehinde 31, B. Etim 25; D.M Bimenyimana 2 for 21)
(Rwanda won by 8 runs)
Team of the tournament
1. Sune Wittmann (Namibia)
2. Queentor Abel (Kenya)
3. Yasmeen Khan (wicketkeeper - Namibia)
4. Sarah Bhakita Wetoto (Kenya)
5. Adri van der Merwe (Namibia)
6. Margaret Banja Ngoche (captain - Kenya)
7. Kayleen-Ann Green (Namibia)
8. Amantle Mokgotlhe (Botswana)
9. Blessing Etim (Nigeria)
10. Henriette Ishimwe (Rwanda)
11. Victoria Hamunyela (Namibia)
12. Cathia Uwamahoro (Rwanda)
13. Salome Sunday (Nigeria)
14. Diane Marie Bimenyimana (Rwanda)
Indiuvidual award winners
Player of Match - Final
Sarah Bhakita Wetoto (Kenya) 6 wickets for 16 runs in 3.5 overs
Sixer of Tournament
Sune Wittmann (Namibia) 3 sixes
Sarah Bhakita Wetoto (Kenya) 17 wickets for 82 runs in 21.4 overs
Sune Wittmann (Namibia) 167 runs, Strike Rate 133, Highest Score: 93* Inns: 5
Player of Tournament
Queentor Abel (Kenya) 165 runs, 7 wickets, 5 catches (30.158 points)
Runners up: Namibia
Third place: Rwanda
Fourth place: Nigeria
Fifth place: Botswana (also Fair Play Award winners)