The first round of the Africa T20 World Cup Qualifiers concluded with Kenya and Rwanda standing out from the other eight teams and earning themselves a ticket to the Africa finals in Namibia in 2023 where the hosts are waiting alongside Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The rain nearly threw a spanner in the works for Kenya washing out their first opening two fixtures against St Helena and Malawi, but once they had a chance to play they showed that they don’t belong here, scoring 209 against Malawi and 237 against Lesotho. The top five strike rates in the whole tournament belonged to Kenyan batters a sign showing that there was very little threat in the bowling. Even against Rwanda with whom they qualify for the next round, Kenya chased down 87 inside seven overs. Collins Obuya turned back the hands of time even at 41 he had a strike rate of over 200, he chose to help his brother David Obuya hit catches for the team during warm-up rather than having throw downs sometimes before the game.
Rwanda finally came of age qualifying for the finals for the first time, a major achievement for the nation. Martin Suji and his boys had some bit of fortune getting through their early games unbothered by the rain which in the end proved to be critical as their closest rivals especially Malawi were undone by the rain washing out two crucial results. However, they also defeated their closest rivals Botswana by five wickets and also Malawi by 41 runs which two results meant they took care of business. Rwanda earned themselves a second-place finish a point ahead of Malawi which meant they will meet teams like Zimbabwe and Namibia for the very first time in international cricket.
Botswana came into the tournament with a reputation as the second highest ranked team in the tournament behind Kenya but they relied on the willow of their captain Karabo Mothlanka a lot that in games he didn’t show up they were put to the sword. In the loss to Malawi, their bowling couldn’t defend 148 which seemed like a good total. In the end, Joseph Angara and his troops finished a distant fifth in the eight-nation tournament.
St Helena was the team that won everyone’s hearts with their commitment and style of play, Scot Crowie their captain undoubtedly the captain of the tournament. His intellect in the field with his bowling changes and field sets gave his team a chance in most of their games. They were able to nick Seychelles by two runs in a very entertaining game and followed it up with a convincing 56-run win over Lesotho. They had to leave the tournament early to make sure they don’t miss their one flight to the island but they certainly left an impression on everyone.
Lesotho was impressive as well but got ravaged by injuries to key players along the way, they picked two quick wins but playing seven games inside 10 days took a toll on the team and by Match Day seven they had only 12 available players.
Malawi punched above their weight and nearly sneaked into the finals, Samir Sohail the player of the tournament was their go-to player throughout the whole tournament with both bat and ball. They were greatly affected by the weather in the game against Mali in which they were favorites. In the end, Arjun Menoni and his boys finished third a point outside the automatic qualification slots.
Seychelles was the most disappointing side, ranked ahead of Lesotho, St Helena, and Mali they somehow failed to win a single game the whole tournament. They looked set for a win against Mali until they decided to bowl four overs of useless pace instead of using spin to get in the required five overs for the result in case of rain. That No Result deflated the whole team and team, and they never just showed up for the rest of the games.
Mali was the brave side coming to the event, they gave as much as they could but this level is still very new to them. While their bowling wasn’t terrible with decent enough bowling actions and proper lengths, it’s their batting that still needs some work. They were bowled out for some of the tournaments’ lowest totals 31 against Kenya and 30 against Rwanda. However, the experience left an impression on them to prepare better for the future.
Collins Obuya and Eric Dusinguzimana shared the best batsman award, Druv Maisuria and Emmanuel Sebareme shared the best bowler award, Orichide Tuyisenge took the best fielder award while Sami Sohail had the most influence in all games to win the MVP award.
The Group B qualifier starts on Dec 1-9 in Kigali and will feature Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gambia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Eswatini.
You’re reading Emerging Cricket — brought to you by a passionate group of volunteers with a vision for cricket to be a truly global sport, and a mission to inspire passion to grow the game.
Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, please subscribe for regular updates, and follow EC on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.
Don’t know where to start? Check out our features list, country profiles, and subscribe to our podcast.
Support us from US$2 a month — and get exclusive benefits, by becoming an EC Patron.
Great update Denis.
Rwanda are an interesting prospect. Their ground is absolutely lovely. How far do you think they could go?
Also how are things progressing in Uganda, do you think you are producing players who will soon be able to compete against the top associates like the Netherlands and Scotland?
Lastly I notice batting strike rates seem low across many of the East African nations (even in Zimbabwe there seems to be few big hitters and totals aren’t huge). Do you think this is due to pitches and conditions? Or just further batting work to be done.