Uganda eye bright finish against knocked-out New Zealand

New Zealand

New Zealand vs Uganda
Providence, 8.30pm local

For Uganda, for whom the T20 World Cup 2024 has been the biggest and most consequential outing in their many decades of playing senior men’s cricket, Friday’s match is one last chance to show what they’ve got at the top level. So far in this tournament, they’ve been brushed aside by Afghanistan and West Indies. In their most recent match against West Indies, they were all out for 39, their lowest total in T20Is. But then they’ve also registered a victory against Papua New Guinea, sparking no little joy and satisfaction.

Ugandan cricket has plenty of distance to travel, but it’s had a showing at a World Cup now. There has been a heartbeat there for much of the last 50 years, but it’s now as loud as it ever has been. Uganda just want to get another solid performance under their belt. An upset? This is of course the dream.

New Zealand, now out of the tournament, having lost badly to Afghanistan then more narrowly to West Indies, have less to gain. Already there are assertions that the greatest era of New Zealand’s cricket is over, and some rebuilding must begin. Tim Southee and Trent Boult are not the forces they once were, perhaps, and that top order seems short of firepower.

A big showing against Uganda won’t necessarily crush those critiques. But there will at least be an opportunity for a proud group of players to reassert themselves.

New Zealand LLLWW (Last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
UgandaLWLWL

In the spotlight: Riazat and Williamson

Uganda have some decent bowling stocks, but it’s their batting that is seriously deficient, as seen in the match against West Indies. Their best bet for resisting New Zealand’s attack is Riazat Ali Shah a batter of Pakistani origin who moved to Uganda from the Hunza Valley in Gilgit-Baltistan to pursue his cricket dreams. Riazat was not only the Player of the Match in their game against PNG but was also their highest run-scorer in the Africa Region Qualifier. His 42 off 28 against Zimbabwe was one of the most telling contributions of that tournament.
Kane Williamson, arguably the centrepiece of New Zealand’s greatest cricket era, is captaining a team that bows out of the tournament before they reach the next level. And he is doing it without really having contributed meaningfully to the campaign, scoring 9 and 1 against the top teams in the group. There will be plenty of time to pick apart this World Cup showing. But, for now, Williamson needs some runs.

Pitch and conditions: Slower pitch in Tarouba

No rain is forecast for Tarouba on Friday night. The pitches at the Brian Lara Stadium have not been conducive to run-fests. They have had a bit of turn for the spinners, and rewarded bowlers who take the pace off.

Barring last-minute injuries, Uganda seem unlikely to make too many changes.

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

Ish Sodhi is the only member of New Zealand’s squad to not get a game so far in this World Cup. He could come into the side if conditions are expected to favour spin.

New Zealand: 1 Devon Conway (wk), 2 Finn Allen, 3 Rachin Ravindra, 4 Kane Williamson (capt), 5 Daryl Mitchell, 6 Glenn Phillips, 7 James Neesham, 8 Mitchell Santner, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Lockie Ferguson.

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