Ellina Mhlanga in Liverpool, England
GOAL-SHOOTER Pauline Jani shot 51 of 53 to power the Zimbabwe Gems to another victory over a side ranked above them on the globe as their fairy-tale Vitality Netball World Cup continued here last night with a 66-41 win over Barbados.
The Gems bounced back to winning ways at the M&S Bank Arena to ensure they are guaranteed of a top eight finish in their debut World Cup show.
This was their second Group F Game.
Zimbabwe took control of the proceedings as early as the first quarter and, with Barbados losing the ball in their mid-court, the Gems made sure they capitalised on their mistakes.
They took a 17-11 lead in the first quarter and by the end of the second stanza they were 33-19 in front, comfortably leading by 14 points.
Jani led from the front and got support from Sharon Bwanali for Ursula Ndlovu in the second quarter with the plan working out perfectly for Zimbabwe in their attack.
With Zimbabwe enjoying a good game defensively as goal defender Felistus Kwangwa showcased her skills, making some exceptional intercepts for her side, it was left for Jani and crew to make the difference upfront.
Zimbabwe, enjoyed a good display, in all departments, and carried through their dominance to the third quarter and were up 48-32.
With an 18-point lead, they just needed to remain calm and ensure they kept possession in the last half.
Zimbabwe’s coach Lloyd Makunde could not hide his joy as he said they were now looking forward to their next encounter against Malawi tomorrow with confidence.
“Team work prevailed today. We made changes and the game kept on rising, all the substitutes played well, they upped their game so kudos to the whole team.
“We wanted this, I thought we were going to win and then we won the game, we are happy. But then we are not celebrating, we are waiting for the Malawi game and then after that we can celebrate.
“We are going to do well against Malawi. We know they have rested their star players but after this win we have gained confidence so we will tackle them any time.
“This one is a very big win to us but then, as I said, we want the Malawi game and then we can start to celebrate…we would want to play the best so that one day we will be the best,” said Makunde.
Makunde made some changes in the second quarter with Ndaizivei Madzikangava coming in for Perpetua Siyachitema, who returned for the last quarter.
Madzikangava was back in the last quarter again for Patricia Mauladi.
Jani, who completed the game with a 96 percent accuracy after sinking 51 out of 53 shots said although they were nervous at the start they quickly settled as they realised they had a good chance of winning.
“I am really excited, we defended as a team and we won as a team. They are a bit slow and from what we learnt against Australia we realised we needed to be fast when approaching the shooting third. So we improved on that today.
“We were a bit nervous at the start but we gained confidence as the game progressed. I just want to say thank you guys to the supporters back home,” said Jani.
The teams take a rest today and matches resume tomorrow with Zimbabwe playing Malawi in their last Group F game.
Malawi lost 25-74 to Australia yesterday.
A win for Zimbabwe tomorrow against their African counterparts will see them fighting for a top six finish, which will be a milestone for the team.
Zimbabwe: Pauline Jani, Ursula Ndlovu, Perpertua Siyachitema, Patricia Mauladi, Claris Kwaramba, Felistus Kwangwa, Rudo Karume.
Subs: Sharon Bwanali, Ndaizivei Madzikangava, Sharleen Makusha, Adelaide Muskwe, Joice Takaidza.
Barbados: Shonia Wharton, Sheniqua Thomas, Samantha Browne, Amanda Knight, Shonte Seale, Rhe-Ann Niles-Mapp, Shonette Azore-Bruce.
Subs: Katonia Blackman, Damisha Croney, Rieah Holder, Brianna Holder, Tonisha Rock-Yaw.