There is a fire in the belly of Rwanda, a fire that burns to prove that they belong. A fire to show that they are here on the biggest stage to compete & prove their might.
Rwanda qualified via the African Regional Qualifier after locking horns with Tanzania in the finals. The Rwandan women's U-19 team is the pride of the nation & quite rightly so. They became the first team from Rwanda across any age group or gender to qualify for a World Cup in any format. As Rwanda grows, so does cricket.
Rwanda is placed in Group B along with England, Zimbabwe, & Pakistan.
Their squad has 4 players with a total of 109 caps between them. The most experienced out of them is Henriette Ishimwe (44 caps) followed by skipper, Gisele Ishimwe (43 caps), Belyse Murekatete (18 caps), & Merveille Uwase (4 caps).
Rwanda hasn't had much game time coming into this tournament with only a few players having had a chance of representing the senior side, while Henriette Ishimwe was a part of the Fairbreak Global. The good part was that they played a couple of unofficial warm-up games against Indonesia after arriving in South Africa. While one got abandoned, the other one was won by them by 5 runs after defending a total of 93.
The official warm-up saw them face New Zealand in the first game which they lost by 63 runs, but were able to play out all their 20 overs. In their 2nd warm-up, they showed why they shouldn't be taken lightly. Rwanda defeated Ireland in that game as they successfully defended 103 runs. Ireland needed 9 to win in the last over and Henriette Ishimwe gave away 7 runs to ensure that Rwanda won the game by 1 run.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Henriette Ishimwe - Henriette made her debut for Rwanda in 2019, but one got to see her in action properly only when she was a part of the Fairbreak Global. The right-arm pacer had cleaned up Australia's Nicola Carey and is still famously remembered for that. She is the most capped player for Rwanda along with Sarah Uwera and sits at 2nd for the most T20I wickets for her nation with 33 scalps to her name.
The medium pacer has got tricks up her sleeves with effective cutters and accurate yorker lengths. She was the standout performer against Ireland and it was her 2/19 in 4 overs including the last-over heroics that helped her team win the game.
Gisele Ishimwe - Skipper Gisele Ishimwe became the youngest player ever to represent Rwanda in the T20Is at the age of just 14Y years and 137 days. She is the best batter in the side with the most runs scored for Rwanda in T20Is. With a very high backlift, she generates a lot of power when the balls are outside the off and manages to thrash them. Gisele has 2x50s and 1x100 already at such a young age & that is an incredible feat that gives a small glance at what she has in store for everyone to watch in the upcoming tournament.
She is tall and uses her height to a good advantage as a right-arm pacer. She bowls it full and looks to attack the stumps frequently. In the first warm-up game, she was able to dismiss the White Ferns' keeper, Izzy Gaze, and was also proactive with the bat before she was dismissed after a cameo.
Belyse Murekatete - The pace all-rounder is a vital figure in the side. She was crucial in the first warm-up game against New Zealand where she was the best bowler in the game for Rwanda. She dismissed New Zealand's skipper, Izzy Sharp & also got rid of Tash Wakelin, two of New Zealand's key batters. Coming in at #6, Murekatete also chipped in with 10 runs.
Her good performances weren't done yet. The 2nd warm-up game saw Murekatete finish as Rwanda's highest run-scorer this time. Her 26 (29) was a big reason why Rwanda crossed the 100-mark that eventually proved to be enough for them to win the game against Ireland. In the 18 T20Is she has played, she has picked up 14 wickets with an impressive average and economy of under 5. She made her debut in June 2021 and has featured in 18/24 T20Is for her nation since then.
Merveille Uwase - Merveille knows how to put up a stubborn resistance as an opener. She is a powerful puller of the ball and knows how to hold one end up and put a price on her wicket. The WKB made her senior debut in 2022 against Gambia and has represented her nation in 4 T20Is. She scored two double-digit scores in the warm-up games and would yet again be looking to bat long in the group stage.
Rwanda's win against Ireland has thrown the cat among the pigeons. This performance showed why Rwanda is a team that shouldn't be taken lightly. Not to forget, they also defeated Indonesia in the unofficial warm-up & they would be having Zimbabwe in their sights in the group game.