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Uganda ready for some ‘fire’ in first clash with West Indies

“It’s going to be a fire-breather.” Simon Csezaji said in the pre-match press conference that this will undoubtedly be the most eagerly awaited match in his country’s long cricketing history. Coming off their first T20 World Cup win, the Ugandan Cricket Cranes will take the field in a match they have been waiting for the most; they will face their hosts, and in some cases idols, in Providence on Saturday evening local time. In the first meeting between the two sides, the West Indies are being considered the dark horses for the title in this domestic tournament, the favourites to be crowned. However, that was true before their first match, and they didn’t really look like it as they won over the unpredictable Papua New Guinea on the same ground. Uganda of course suffered a defeat against Afghanistan in their first match, but also lost to New Zealand this morning. The pitch in Providence hasn’t come in for the same criticism as the New York pitch, but it is a potentially equalising pitch. Uganda believe that if they keep the ball on their line and take their chances in the field (which is no easy task for a team not used to playing under lights), they can put the same kind of pressure on their hosts as PNG’s Barramundis did.

 

The West Indies will not let them get into the game if they can help it. Having gauged the surface against PNG, expect them to exercise restraint to temper their aggression with the bat. They may have looked disappointed in their first match, but they have now won five in a row on home ground and they are not going to take anyone lightly.

 

The West Indies may be happy, but they are unlikely to be any less hospitable on the field. For Ugandans, the West Indies are “the other team” to many, but tonight they will look to make them so.

When: West Indies vs Uganda, June 08 8:30 pm local, June 09 12.30 pm GMT, June 09 6 pm IST

Where: Providence Stadium, Guyana

What to expect: The Providence surface has been slow, low and punishing of reckless aggression so far in this tournament, although it is more accurate than some other decks. The new ball has also gone in for seamers, with Afghanistan’s Farooqi doing well so far. Overall it’s a good place to bowl, although batsmen will be rewarded for application and being alert to make use of anything loose.

Head-to-head in T20Is: 0-0

Team Watch: West Indies

After a slightly questionable performance against PNG, West Indies might consider bringing in Shai Hope to add stability to the middle order, where accumulation could prove to be key. Having said that, it’s difficult to carve out a space for a bowler, while Roston Chase has shown himself capable of playing the role of back-stop and finisher. Farooqi’s success against Uganda could base a case for bringing in left-armer Obed McCoy, though, if only to allow the seamers to roam.

 

Strategy and matchups: Nicholas Pooran has a good record at this venue, having hit three fifties and amassed over 153 runs. His prowess on a slow, low surface could be crucial for the hosts.

 

Probable XI: Brandon King, Johnson Charles, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Roston Chase, Rovman Powell (c), Sherfane Rutherford, Andre Russell, Obed McCoy, Akeal Hosein, Alzari Joseph, Gudakesh Moti

Team Watch: Uganda

The Cranes could stick with a winning line-up for similar conditions, although there could be a temptation to bring in another batsman for the out-of-form Dinesh Nakrani, or Fred Achellam as a specialist keeper if he is deemed more comfortable standing in for seam.

Strategy and matchup: Rovman Powell’s numbers against spin have an impact. He averages 22 and scores at a strike rate of 116 against them, something Uganda will want to take advantage of on a slow pitch.

Probable XI: Roger Mukasa, Simon Csezazi (wk), Robinson Obuya, Riazat Ali Shah, Alpesh Ramzani, Dinesh Nakrani, Juma Miyagi, Kenneth Waiswa, Brian Masaba (c), Cosmas Kyavuta, Frank Nsubuga

Part of how much cricket Uganda has played recently is reflected in the fact that opening pair Roger Mukasa and Simon Csezazi are both close to scoring 1,000 runs in the space of 12 months, having scored 927 and 903 runs respectively since this time last year. They were both in the top 5 run-scorers for the calendar year 2023 with 738 and 725 runs respectively.

The West Indies are a favourite team for cricketers around the world, and Uganda is no exception. Veteran off-spinner Frank Nsubuga named his son Pollard after Kieron Pollard. Another West Indies cricketer also featured in the same tournament; Netherlands fast bowler Vivian Kingma was named after Viv Richards.

“It’s going to be historic, playing with a team you’ve always watched on TV.  Whenever you see a West Indies player, you feel, yes, it feels like you’re there. I, myself, only support West Indies in any format of the game. And playing with them for the first time in my life, is really going to be a blessing for me.

It’s really going to be a blessing for me. And I think we might not win as I say, but just wait for the underdogs. It’s going to be fire. Friday, Saturday night is going to be fire.” – Simon Csaz

“It’s a World Cup. Every team is here to win. So, you can’t take any team lightly because even in the first game we played, we were a bit behind.  So, you have to take every game very seriously and go out there and play your best game in every game.” – Roston Chase

West Indies Squad: Brandon King, Johnson Charles, Nicholas Pooran (wicket-keeper), Roston Chase, Rovman Powell (captain), Sherfane Rutherford, Andre Russell, Romario Shepherd, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Gudakesh Moti, Shai Hope, Obed McCoy, Shamar Joseph, Shimron Hetmyer

Uganda Squad: Roger Mukasa, Simon Cessazi (wicket-keeper), Robinson Obuya, Riazat Ali Shah, Alpesh Ramzani, Dinesh Nakrani, Juma Miyagi, Kenneth Waiswa, Brian Masaba (captain), Cosmas Kyavuta, Frank Nsubuga, Ronak Patel, Bilal Hassan, Fred Achelum, Henry Senyondo.