Can spirited Uganda challenge the mighty West Indies?

West Indies

Match details

West Indies vs Uganda
June 8, Providence, 7.30pm local

Big picture: Uganda’s players take on their heroes

It’s strange and beautiful that Uganda’s third T20I against a Full-Member nation – they first beat Zimbabwe in Africa Qualifiers to reach the T20 World Cup and then lost to Afghanistan on their World Cup debut – is against West Indies. Irrespective of the result, Saturday will be celebrated and cherished not just in the Ugandan dressing room in Providence but also back home. Some Ugandan players’ role models are West Indians. In batter Simon Ssesazi’s words, some of them “only support West Indies in any format of the game” and it’s a “blessing” to play against them. There is so much love and admiration for the co-hosts of this World Cup – Frank Nsubuga, 43, had named his son Pollard after a certain West Indian legend.

West Indies are coming into this game on the back of five successive wins and will be keen to extend that streak. Though they were given a scare by Papua New Guinea (PNG) in their opening match, West Indies eventually got home thanks to Roston Chase’s cameo in the chase.

As for Uganda, they are history-makers. They are fighters. Back home, they don’t even have a floodlit facility for practice and so they are not used to playing under lights. Treading in this uncharted territory in their first World Cup appearance, where all of their four Group C matches are played under lights, they suffered a heavy defeat to Afghanistan in their opener. However, Uganda were quick to adjust to the conditions as they overcame PNG in a low-scoring thriller in their next game to secure their first victory in the World Cup.

For them, facing co-hosts West Indies will be a much stiffer challenge. If Uganda have played a total of 93 T20Is so far, Nicholas Pooran alone has featured in 89 T20Is. The biggest concern for Uganda going into Saturday’s game will be their batting after they had been bowled out for 58 against Afghanistan and lost seven wickets in a chase of 78 against PNG. Can they challenge the power-packed West Indies at the Providence?

Form guide

West Indies WWWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
Uganda WLWLW

In the spotlight – Roston Chase and Riazat Ali Shah

Andre Russell isn’t the only West Indian allrounder Uganda should be wary of. Roston Chase 2.0, has been in exceptional form since being recalled to the T20I side this year. In 2024, he has bowled full quota of four overs in three of the four T20Is, picking up four wickets and conceding less than six runs an over. With the bat, he has scored 37, 32*, 67*, 42* – at a strike rate of 154.78.

Riazat Ali Shah, one of Uganda’s most promising talents, made a cautious 33 off 56 to steer a tricky chase after an early collapse against PNG. He has a strike rate of 122.7 in 59 T20Is and will look to find a higher tempo against West Indies.

Team news

West Indies couldn’t accommodate fast bowler Shamar Joseph and batter Shimron Hetmyer in the XI against PNG. Instead, they continued to back Romario Shepherd and Sherfane Rutherford. They might stick with the same XI against Uganda.

West Indies (probable XI): 1 Johnson Charles, 2 Brandon King, 3 Nicholas Pooran (wk), 4 Roston Chase, 5 Rovman Powell (capt), 6 Sherfane Rutherford, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Romario Shepherd, 9 Akeal Hosein, 10 Alzarri Joseph, 11 Gudakesh Motie

Uganda made three changes for the second game from the XI that played the opener with Ronak Patel (opener), Henry Ssenyondo (left-arm spinner), and Bilal Hassan (medium pacer) sitting out. They brought in two pace options in Juma Miyagi and Kenneth Waiswa and a spin allrounder in Nsubuga. Both Miyagi and Nsubuga played key roles in Uganda’s win against PNG and are likely to retain their spots.

Uganda (probable XI): 1 Roger Mukasa, 2 Simon Ssesazi (wk), 3 Robinson Obuya, 4 Riazat Ali Shah, 5 Dinesh Nakrani, 6 Alpesh Ramjani, 7 Juma Miyagi, 8 Brian Masaba (capt), 9 Kenneth Waiswa, 10 Cosmas Kyewuta, 11 Frank Nsubuga

Stats that matter: Pooran hot on Gayle’s heels

  • Nicholas Pooran needs 25 runs to surpass Chris Gayle’s tally of 1899 and become West Indies’ highest run-getter in men’s T20Is.
  • Pooran and Russell have hit 786 sixes between them in T20s since 2019.
  • Uganda’s Alpesh Ramjani has 13 wickets in in six T20Is this year at an economy rate of 4.3.

Pitch and conditions: Another sluggish surface on the cards

The surface in Providence is expected to be slow, so scoring might not be easy once again. Saturday might be cloudy with temperatures hovering around 23 degrees in the evening but there is no threat of rain or thunderstorms.

Quotes

“My game was always one [where] I could always rotate the strike and turn over the strike in the middle overs. But my game has evolved where I have learned and I’ve been practising to finish the game in the back end in terms of the power-hitting and getting stronger and stuff. So, I think that’s what really helped my game to evolve. So that’s made me a better player, yes.”
Roston Chase on how he has levelled up

“Getting our first win against PNG is a dream come true. We never thought we’d win any game and everyone was like, ‘I think they’re just going to play and just come back and sit’. But putting in that good effort against PNG on the big stage, it has been mind-blowing. Kampala is just booming since the day we won, everyone is just calling us legends. I don’t know if we’re legends but yeah, it’s exciting.”
Simon Ssesazi on the impact his team has created back home

Srinidhi Ramanujam is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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