Ssesazi, Nakrani put Uganda one step from history

Uganda need one more win, against bottom-of-the-table Rwanda, to secure qualification to the 2024 T20 World Cup

The Uganda team celebrates a wicket in their win over Kenya at the Africa T20 World Cup Qualifiers
The Uganda team celebrates a wicket in their win over Kenya at the Africa T20 World Cup Qualifiers - Cricket Uganda

Uganda moved to being one win away from a historic T20 World Cup debut after a victory over Kenya. The Cricket Cranes saw off their East African rivals by 33 runs, after Simon Ssesazi and Dinesh Nakrani posted scores of 60 and 40, respectively, in a total of 162/5.

Both sides arrived at this fixture with their destinies in their own hands, both needing to win their two final games to qualify. Uganda, however, had the clearer path to the T20 World Cup, having already beaten Zimbabwe, and with Rwanda to play on Thursday. Kenya would require wins over both Uganda and then Zimbabwe to book their qualification. History also favoured Uganda, holding a 7-4 winning record against Kenya in T20Is since 2019.

Uganda won the toss, and captain Brian Masaba chose to bat first. Uganda lost two wickets in the first powerplay, including Roger Mukasa for a golden duck, but Simon Ssesazi and Riazat Ali Shah were able to settle into a rhythm in the middle overs.

Ssesazi would go on to make 60, with support from Shah (26), Alpesh Ramjani (19) and Dinesh Nakrani (40). Uganda steadily upped the scoring rate in this period, bringing a total of 150 into view. When Ssesazi was run out at the end of the 19th over, the score was 147/6. Nakrani took up the mantle, and the Cranes managed 15 off the last over to raise an imposing 162/5.

The Simbas were buoyed by the return of Rakep Patel, who got the chase off to a flyer, with 3 sixes in his 27. However, Kenya ended the powerplay two down, after Patel, and Rushab Patel both lost their wickets.

A partnership of 42 runs between Collins Obuya and Ifran Karim kept Kenya up with the run rate, before the Simbas lost two in two to Riazat Ali Shah. Three balls later, play was stopped for rain, Kenya now 75/4 and behind on DLS. Play resumed with no overs lost, but momentum was now firmly with the Cranes. With a climbing asking rate, Ramjani took two wickets in an over, including Obuya, to put Uganda on the brink.

The last three wickets came in one over, bowled by Bilal Hassan, who finished with 4/39 from four overs. Kenya were bowled out for 129 in 19 overs, giving Uganda their fourth victory of the tournament.

Uganda retain control of their destiny, needing only to beat bottom-of-the-table Rwanda to secure qualification, a side over whom they hold a 16-0 record in T20Is. Whilst Zimbabwe and Kenya are not yet eliminated, both their paths rely on Uganda losing. For Zimbabwe, any win and a defeat for Uganda would do, thanks to their superior Net Run Rate. For Kenya, they must also overhaul Uganda’s NRR, but will have to do so without a target, since Uganda’s game is concurrent with Kenya’s.

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