In a thrilling encounter at the Wanderers Cricket Ground in Windhoek, Cricket Cranes delivered a resounding performance against arch-rivals Kenya, bringing them one step closer to making history. The intense fixture, a decisive match for both teams’ World Cup qualification hopes, lived up to its reputation of creating unparalleled pressure for the players.
Uganda won the crucial toss and elected to bat, setting the stage for a compelling innings. Openers Simon Ssesazi and Ronak Patel, a formidable pair throughout the tournament, commenced their innings under the Windhoek sun. While Patel has been the standout performer for the Cricket Cranes, it was Ssesazi who stole the show on this occasion.
Facing Kenya, a team he relishes batting against, Ssesazi delivered a Man of the Match performance, scoring an explosive 60 off 50 balls. His innings included four fours and two sixes, providing a solid foundation for Uganda. Supported by contributions from Riazat Ali Shah (24), Alpesh Ramjani (19), and Dinesh Nakrani (40), the Ugandan batters showcased intent and determination, setting a challenging target of 162 for the Kenyan team.
In response to Uganda’s formidable total, Kenya, despite a promising start, found themselves outplayed. Captain Rakep Patel gave Kenya an early advantage with a quick 26 runs, targeting Bilal Hassun, who eventually exacted his revenge by dismissing Patel in the fourth over.
The momentum shifted in favor of the Cricket Cranes as Nakrani and Riazat applied pressure, leading to three more wickets within the 11th over. The introduction of Kenneth Waiswa, not previously called upon in the tournament, proved impactful as he dismissed Nelson Odhiambo in the 16th over.
Despite the fear that veteran Collins Obuya could upset the odds, Ramjani dismissed him in the 15th over, preventing any potential damage. In the final overs, Bilal dismantled the Kenyan tailenders, claiming the wickets of Sanchin Bhudia, captain Lucas Oluoch Ndandason, and Vraj Patel in the 19th over.
With a difference of 33 runs, Kenya was bundled out, and Uganda secured a convincing victory, sparing an entire over from their defense.
This crucial win places Uganda in a prime position to realize their dream of a World Cup appearance. Currently sitting second with 8 points, just two behind Namibia (who has already qualified) and two ahead of both Zimbabwe and Kenya, Uganda needs to win their upcoming game against Rwanda to secure the coveted World Cup ticket.
As the Cricket Cranes approach their last final on Thursday, the entire nation awaits the possibility of witnessing Uganda’s first-ever appearance at a World Cup. The team, guided by the philosophy of treating every game like a final, stands on the brink of a historic achievement, with only one slot left in the qualifier. Victory against Rwanda would not only secure their place in the World Cup but etch their names in Ugandan cricket history.