By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE has made history after putting on a superb show to register an impressive win over Sri Lanka in their first ever Netball World Cup match in Liverpool on Friday..
Buoyed by raucous support from Zimbabweans and neutrals at the M&S Banks Arena, the Gems comfortably won their opening match against Sri Lanka by 79-49 ahead of their other Group A matches in which they will face reigning champions Australia and Northern Ireland. The top three teams from the group will go through to the next round.
Featuring in their first World Cup, the Gems got off to a positive start and took the lead from the onset taking the first quarter 19-14.
Sri Lanka came out of the blocks fastest at the start of the second quarter, quickly reducing the goal deficit but Zimbabwe still managed to maintain the lead to end the second quarter at 38-29 courtesy of some fine work from Ursula Ndlovu and Joice Takaidza upfront.
They were up 53-42 in the third quarter and they wrapped up the game in the last quarter to claim a 79-49 win over Sri Lanka.
Goal shooter Joice Takaidza had a good day on court with a 95 percent conversion rate as she converted 59 out of the 62 shots.
The inform Takaidza said she was amazed by the support the team received in their first match, describing the experience as a dream come true.
“I have goosebumps – this is a dream come true! We didn’t know we had so many people supporting Zimbabwe – to see the whole arena supporting us like that was so exciting,” said Takaidza.
Sri Lanka coach Thilaka Jinadasa conceded defeat.
“We weren’t in the game until the third quarter – it all happened in the last quarter. The girls lost the momentum, especially the centre court – they were not moving around as they should and I think it cost us the match,” the coach said.
In the other Group A game, Australia beat Northern Ireland 88-24 to get their title defence off to a perfect start.
Zimbabwe is one of four African teams at the tournament that is being hosted in Liverpool, England. The others are Malawi, Uganda and South Africa.
Zimbabwe will face World No. 1 Australia Saturday.