Uganda Secures Historic First T20 World Cup Victory

Thursday, June 6
Papua New Guinea – 77 (19.1)
Uganda – 78/7 (18.2)
*Uganda win by 3 wickets


Uganda’s longest serving player and the oldest player at the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, Frank Nsubuga created history by becoming the most economical bowler at a T20 World Cup as the Cricket Cranes beat Papua New Guinea by 3 wickets.

History was at stake in this game! Heading into the match – which was each side’s second in Group C, both sides had never won a game in this competition, but it was Uganda- a debuting side – that reigned supreme.

Having won the toss for the second time in a row, Uganda stuck to their opening game decision which was to bowl first. It was Alpesh Ramjani who was once again trusted with opening the bowling, and boy did he give his side a flawless start!

PNG captain Assad Vala opened alongside his fellow danger man Sese Bau hoping to do a repeat of 2022 when they defeated Uganda by 8 wickets. The odds were indeed for Vala and his teammates to take the honours, but what befell the Oceanians was a disaster they never saw coming.

The first ball went to Vala, and while he missed it, he was shown the exit (lbw) with the very next delivery. That Over ended in a wicket maiden; an unsullied start for the Cricket Cranes who were battered by Afghanistan in their debut match on Tuesday.

Playing his first game at a senior World Cup, pacer Juma Miyaji who has represented Uganda at this stage at the U19 level took the crease for the third Over after fellow pacer Cosmas Kyewuta had suffered 11 runs in the second one.

Miyaji begun with a no ball, but midway the Over, Bau was out. Bau swung it up towards mid off, but landed it on the hands of an onrushing Roger Mukasa.

Kyewuta joined the mix when in the fourth Over, he dismissed Tony Ura. A catch once again taken by Mukasa, and this one, a much more comfortable one.

PNG got a little bit of a breather in the next two Overs, however, off Miyaji’s bowling, Lega Siaka landed into a run out initiated by Kyewuta and completed by wicketkeeper Simon Ssesazi.

Nsubuga takes to the Crease

Seven Overs were down, and four wickets were gone; the score was reading 36 at this stage when team captain Brian Masaba reintroduced spin. This change saw the introduction of Nsubuga. A dream for this 43-year-old had come true. After 27 years of toiling for his country, and being benched in the opening game, it was time for Nsubuga to come to the attack at a World Cup.

His first Over was the ninth of the innings; he bowled that for two. Splendid right? Wait for it! Nsubuga’s next two Overs were wicket maidens. By the time he exhausted his spell, he had set a record for most economical spell at 2/4 at an economy of 1.00. A player made for this stage, a performance befitting an icon.

After Nsubuga taking care of Hiri Hiri- PNG’s top scorer (15) of the day, it was swift clearance of the tail end. Ramjani, Masaba, Miyaji and Kyewuta each picked a wicket in the final five Overs. Kyewuta closed the innings with the dismissal of Norman Vanua in the 19.1 Over. The score, 77 all out.

The Chase

Uganda have often time come out as a side that struggles with batting, but tracking down 78 seemed very achievable. The problem with this was, PNG had read from the same script as Uganda.

Lately, Mukasa has picked a trend of becoming the first victim in the Ugandan lineup. This game was no different. His wicket came as early as the 0.3 Over, and it laid ground for PNG attackers, particularly Alei Nao who went on to dismiss Ssesazi in the 3rd Over.

Before Ssesazi fell, Robinson Obuya had already fallen through Vala (c) and Vanau (b) in the second Over. Uganda’s top order exited the pan inside the third Over with just 6 runs on board.

The wickets of Dinesh Nakrani and Ramjani were added into the wicket column and Uganda went five down with just 25 runs inside the seventh Over. But, an unlikely partnership in Riazat Ali Shah and Miyaji happened.

Having witnessed his side being plucked for fun, Cricket Cranes coach Abhay Sharma went tactical. He introduced Miyaji- a bowler- leaving behind all-rounders in Kenneth Waiswa and the captain.

It was the first time the 21-year-old was batting at middle order for his country, and what an asset he turned out to be! Miyaji’s partnership with his best pal gave the Cricket Cranes a steady innings they had been craving for. He joined at 7 with Uganda needing 52 off 14.3 Overs. All these two needed to do was rotate the strike, and this is exactly what they achieved.

PNG will feel they brought this to themselves because at 35/5 and with Riazat at 10, he was dropped at point. Rizu went on to post 33 off 56 and ultimately winning the Player of the Match award. Miyaji on the other hand was run out in the 13.4 Over with 13 to his belt. Together, the pair put together 36 runs.

Waiswa and Masaba saw off the innings, with the former sweeping the ball to fine leg for the winning runs (2), but the game was won by the aforementioned partnership.

A hard fought victory for the Cranes, but one for the history books and one that will give them momentum heading into their next game.

They will face co-hosts West Indies on Saturday, 8th at the same ground in their third game in the group.

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