Picture Courtesy: Joe Curtis
Precious Marange was busy watching IPL highlights before this interview took place Picture Courtesy: Joe Curtis

While many predicted the Women s Quadrangular series match between Ireland Women and Zimbabwe Women would go in the former s way, the latter put up a stellar performance, registering a comfortable victory instead. While each player had their own contributions towards the hard-earned victory, one name stood out of the bowling card with figures of 8.1-0-32-4. Precious Marange, a happy Zimbabwe Women s cricketer after their historic victory, spoke about how much it meant to the team and also revealed a long-nurtured wish.

Having known her for some time, I texted Precious to congratulate her on her brilliant spell. It was around 9.30 PM in South Africa. After a tiring match day, Precious had engaged herself in watching IPL highlights of the day because all big players play in the league . Well, this did not take me by much surprise. This was the second time I was doing an interview with her, and I knew by that time the rigorous schedule she follows to maintain both cricket and family.

I asked her about what went her way in the Ireland match. The response was simple: We generally have a game plan that one of the bowlers will be attacking and the one from the other end will be anchoring. That is what worked according to our plan against Ireland.

Not only Precious, but the entire Zimbabwe Women s team looked in a different outfit than their first match of the tournament against South Africa, which the latter won by 8 wickets with 38.2 overs to spare.

Starting from warm-up, we were very confident that it was our day. Everyone was so focused and had that hunger for win in their mind. We believed, if we could beat Ireland, we will step closer to getting the ODI status, she added. To us it means a lot playing against a big team who have ODI status. In my opinion, it is no less than an honour. I think it is time to express ourselves that even if we do not have ODI status, we have the ability to beat big teams.

Of course, the taste of triumph is always good: It feels so good because we created history. Zimbabwe had never defeated Ireland before this.

A bigger hurdle awaits Zimbabwe in the tournament as they are up against India, who had the better of them in the warm-up match. But Precious has a very clear game plan in her head. She seems quite focused: If we bat first, one, we will have to bat all our 50 overs; and two, will have not to lose many wickets towards the beginning. We will have to pass the 106-run mark. India had restricted Zimbabwe at 106 in the warm-up match.

It is true that India is a big team but if we get all our basics right we will at least not lose by a big margin.

Precious is also aware of Jhulan Goswami, who became the most successful bowler in Women s ODIs in India s previous match in the tournament: It is good to play against good bowlers like her. What we need to do while playing her is to respect the good balls and punish the loose ones.

However, she will continue being the explosive middle-order batter she usually is: They know even in that warm-up match I had scored 25 runs of 27 balls, hitting 3 sixes and a four and only three singles.

And her strategy for the big match with the ball? To just bowl on that fourth stump.

Though Precious is immensely proud of playing for Zimbabwe, she did confess that she wants to play club cricket in India: I think my game will be at another level if I go to India. More games and more exposure will put me somewhere in the cricketing arena.

The lack of games is evident in Zimbabwe. A club tournament has recently been introduced by the board to keep the cricketers engaged. Talking about this tournament, Zimbabwe Cricket s Head Cricket Affairs, Givemore Makoni had told H-Metro, It s an ongoing thing and I think it [the tournament] will be sufficient because any game time is valuable to these women. The problem is that a lot of the girls are school going so they will be at school for most of the time. For provinces to make teams, they rely on these school girls and some adults. It is during holidays that the girls from school and adults get to be together and play.

Zimbabwe women s assistant coach Leonard Nhamburo added, It was a success indeed, it was a good programme. We had to start something and it went well. We now have a bigger pool of players to select from. Games like these are helpful in terms of improving game awareness and also competition amongst players and also a good platform in terms of selections.

But Precious is not fully satisfied with the limited scope of cricket.

I feel, there is more cricketing activity in India than Zimbabwe. Last month we had the three-team tournament but we will have to wait for a long time for a major tournament. Nevertheless, she continues being the confident cricketer she is. She aims to carry the same form into the next game against big guns India and signs off saying, Will beat India tomorrow , followed by a few dancing smileys!