Uganda win ACA Africa T20 Cup after Shah blitz

Riazat Ali Shah was the stand out performer as Uganda defeated Tanzania in the final of the Africa T20

Uganda celebrate a wicket at the ACA Africa T20 Cup

Uganda won the inaugural ACA Africa T20 Cup after Riazat Ali Shah’s unbeaten 98 saw them defeat Tanzania by 8 wickets in the final.

Chasing an imposing 175 to win, Uganda were on the backfoot early when Brian Masaba was out for a duck in the first over. Simon Ssesazi also fell in the powerplay, leaving the Cricket Cranes behind the game at 28/2.

Enter Riazat Ali Shah, to join Deusdedit Muhumuza, already needing over 9 runs per over to win the game but needing to rebuild. The duo took the game deep, raising 98 runs over the next 13 overs. Now needing 49 off three overs, Shah targeted the 18th over, plundering three sixes and a four to halve the target. Shah hit two further sixes in the last over to see Uganda over the line with two balls to spare, but two runs shy of a maiden T20I century. Muhumuza ended the innings 50 not out.

Earlier, Abhik Patwa (68) and Ivan Selamani (39) got Tanzania off to a blistering start, raising 83 in the first 9 overs. Despite the strong start, Tanzania’s middle order was unable to accelerate at the death, resulting in a total of 174/5.

This was the first standalone regional T20I tournament organised by the Africa Cricket Association (ACA), coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the board’s formation. The Africa T20 was played in Benoni, South Africa, and featured eight teams from across the continent. However, the three World Cup bound sides, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia did not participate in the event. Tanzania were invited to the tournament as a late replacement for Nigeria, who were unable to secure the neccessary visas.

The Africa T20 was originally scheduled to be played in late 2019 in Kenya. However, it was postponed twice, the second time because of the COVID-19 pandemic and later relocated to South Africa.

Eight teams were divided into two groups of 4, with the top two in each group advancing to the semi-finals. In Group A, Uganda went undefeated, ahead of Botswana, Ghana, and Mozambique. In Group B, Tanzania topped the group after a commanding win over Kenya. Kenya advanced in 2nd place, with Malawi and Cameroon in 3rd and 4th, respectively.

This set up the semi-finals, with Tanzania playing Botswana and Uganda playing Kenya. Tanzania defeated Botswana by 4 wickets, chasing 148 with 9 balls to spare. The 2nd semi-final, an iteration of the East African derby, saw Kenya fight back from 23/3 to 105/8. Kenya then claimed 7 Uganda wickets but were unable to deny their rivals a place in the final.

Uganda’s overall victory helps to cement their claim to Africa’s fourth-best side, and secures their team’s first silverware since winning World Cricket League Division 4 in 2018.

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