The Cricket Cranes are one foot away from making history after a severe beating they subjected their bitter rivals Kenya to on Wednesday.
The pressure this fixture brings to both camps is always unmatched. Be it with the ladies team or the U19 team, a fixture pitting Uganda against Kenya always serves the chills and this was no different.
This particular one was a decider on which team improves their chances of qualifying for next year’s World Cup.
At the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek, Uganda won the battle of the toss and decided to place themselves in. Off Simon Ssesazi and Ronak Patel-the pair that has opened throughout this tournament- went to get their innings commenced.
Of the two, Patel has been the guy delivering the goods for the Cricket Cranes, but on Wednesday, Ssesazi delivered a Man of the Match performance. He was facing Kenya, a team he loves to bat against, why not?
Ssesazi has had runs hard to come by in this tournament, but against Kenya, he was the team’s highest run scorer. The leftie had an explosive start to his innings on his way to a 60 off 50. Four of those were fours while two, sixes.
An incredible innings that was well supported by first Riazat Ali Shah (24), Alpesh Ramjani (19) and then Dinesh Nakrani (40). There was a sense of intent from all Ugandan batters. Barring the Man of the Match, all four fell from catches. It is no wonder, they set a score (162) that the Kenyans found very hard to chase.
Despite an enviable start to their chase, Kenya were simply the second best team on the day.
Kenya’s captain Rakep Patel had Ugandan hearts racing at the start of the chase! The skipper scored a quick 26 giving Kenyan a dream start. Bilal Hassun took the most beating from Rakep, but the latter didn’t see the cold revenge coming. He was cleaned bowled in the fourth Over, with Bilal doing that with the fifth ball of that Over.
Both Nakrani and Riazat slowed down the proceedings and Uganda went on to pick three more inside the 11th Over.
Kenneth Waiswa was for the first time in this tournament called in to bowl. He didn’t let Nelson Odhiambo face more than four balls as he dismissed the pacer in the 16th Over.
There was fear veteran Collins Obuya would upset the odds. Despite his age, the 42-year-old is a slogger. If left on the crease, he can do irreversible damage, but Ramjani didn’t let that happen as he dismissed the veteran in the 15th Over.
At the backend, Kenyan tailenders were pummeled by a ruthless Bilal. The wickets of Sanchin Bhudia, standin captain, Lucas Oluoch Ndandason and Vraj Patel all fell in the 19th Over.
That was game over for Kenya. They were bundled out with a difference of 33 runs, Uganda sparing an entire Over from their defence.
This win puts Uganda closer to the dream! Jackson Ogwang before this game said Uganda treats every game like a final. Well they have one last final on Thursday, and it will be against Rwanda.
Win that game, and the ticket for a first ever appearance at a World Cup will be secured.
Uganda currently sit second with 8 points, two behind Namibia who have already qualified, and two ahead of both Zimbabwe and Kenya.
There’s just one slot left in this qualifier; Uganda have an upper hand. They only need to win the game. Should Uganda lose and Zimbabwe beats Kenya tomorrow, Zimbabwe will take the slot as they have a superior net run rate.