Malawi on Saturday beat hosts and favourites Rwanda by 24 runs at Gahanga Cricket Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda to finish third in the International Cricket Council (ICC) T20 World Cup Africa Sub Regional Group A qualifier.
A statement issued by Cricket Malawi says although the team failed to qualify for the final qualifying stage, it was its best-ever finish in World Cup qualifiers.
Uganda sailed through to the next stage after finishing top in the seven-team tournament with 12 points, having won all their six games followed by Ghana with 10 points.
Malawi finished with eight points, having won four of their six matches against e-Swatini, Seychelles, Lesotho and the hosts. They lost to group winners Uganda and second-placed Ghana.
In their last match against the hosts played in front of a packed home crowd and a few Malawian supporters, Malawi won the toss and chose to bat first with an eye to capitalise on scoreboard pressure.
Donnex Kasonkho continued his fine form in the tournament, scoring his first international T20 half century with a stroke filled 54 off 65 balls.
In-form Sami Sohail ensured Malawi set up a defendable total of 139/2, remaining unbeaten on 52 off 48 balls with two massive hits over the fence that brought the crowd to its feet.
Rwanda never settled down in the run chase with some very dodgy running by their openers and some incredibly tight fielding by the Malawian close in fielders to run both their openers cheaply.
Veteran all-rounder Mohamed Abdulla, playing his final international game for Malawi, led from the front, opening the bowling with a tight spell that caused panic running for the Rwandese openers.
Sohail continued his good form, bowling a tight line and length to build on the pressure.
Malawi captain Moazzam Baig soon brought himself on and off spinner Michael Mwamadi in from both ends and pressured the Rwandese batters to go for the big hits.
The hosts succumbed to some incredible catching by youngster Waliyu Jackson, who only debuted in an earlier game against Lesotho and gun fielder Alick Kasonkho.
Rwanda were eventually all out for 115 in 18.2 overs which led to a massive celebration by the Malawian team and their supporters.
Baig, Mohamed and Michael were the pick of the bowlers taking 2/15, 1/16 and 2/27 respectively. Man-of-the-match Sami Sohail ended the game with match figures of 2/15 with the ball to add to his unbeaten knock of 52 with the bat.
All-rounder Sohail was Malawi’s outstanding player at the tournament, scoring a total of 197 runs with two half centuries and picking up six wickets with an average of 18 runs a wicket and an economy rate of six runs per over.
He was also the tournament’s second highest run scorer just two runs shy off the leader.
Baig led from the front finishing as the second highest wicket taker of the tournament with 14 wickets at a spectacular average of five runs a wicket and miserly economy rate of four runs per over.