By Ahmed Kigongo
The Uganda Cricket U19 national team defied odds to secure the only qualifying slot available to Africa and qualify for the 2022 World Cup in the West Indies.
Everything that could gone wrong was perfect for the U19s on Wednesday afternoon’s test in Rwanda to beat Tanzania by eight wickets and topple their rivals for the qualification slot.
The Baby Cricket Cranes won the toss and elected to bowl first. A decision that proved inspired as they managed to restrict the Tanzanians to only 33/5 after 20 overs. Joseph Baguma’s 2/16 was backed up by Juma Miyagi (1/12) and Akram Nsubuga (1/8) to ensure that Tanzania crumbled very early.
That was further consolidated by captain Pascal Murungi who picked four wickets with Uganda limiting their opponents to only 51 runs.
Tanzania’s score giving the Baby Cricket Cranes the perfect platform to overturn their Net Run Rate deficit. Meanwhile, Nigeria was making it even easier for Uganda as they piled runs against Namibia in the other qualifier at the main stadium.
Uganda did not let the weight of expectation weigh on them as Ronald Opio and Ronald Lutaaya setting the ball rolling, finding the boundary before they were bowled out.
The baton was handed to Isaac Ategeka and Juma Miyagi who carried it forward and brought the World Cup ticket home in the 11th over to hand Tanzania their first loss of the tournament.
The top three (Uganda, Tanzania and Namibia) were tied on six points, but Uganda edged their rivals to top place thanks to a Net Run Rate of 2.128.
This will be the first World Cup appearance for the U19s in 15-years since 2006 in Sri Lanka, and only the third appearance at the word stage since their first appearance for the 2004 edition in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Baby Cricket Cranes also made amends for their near misses and consecutive heart breaks in 2015 and 2017.
Securing qualification also makes it sweeter for the current U19 generation as they had to fight back after defeat to Namibia in their opening qualifier, before crawling back with back-to-back victories over Rwanda and Nigeria.
Uganda will be joined by Zimbabwe and South Africa who qualified automatically as two of the top eleven nations from last year’s tournament.
The Heroic Uganda Squad
Uganda Pascal Murungi (Captain), Juma Miyagi, Brian Asaba, Cyrus Kakuru, Ronald Omara, Ronald Lutaaya, Joseph Baguma, Christopher Kidega, Matthew Musinguzi, Ismail Munir (Vice-Captain), Ackram Nsubuga, Pius Oloka, Isaac Sanyu Ategeka.