A five-wicket defeat to Uganda, their second loss in three games at the Africa Region Qualifier, has dealt a serious blow to Zimbabwe’s hopes of reaching the 2024 men’s T20 World Cup. Zimbabwe came into this game having lost their tournament-opener to hosts Namibia – a result their coach Dave Houghton had called “embarrassingly bad” – and won their second game against Tanzania by nine wickets.
As things stand, Zimbabwe are fourth on the seven-team table with three games left to play. Namibia and Kenya top the table with perfect records, having won all three of their respective games so far. Zimbabwe’s remaining games pit them against Rwanda, Nigeria – both of whom are currently below them on the standings – and Kenya.
Uganda are in third place, having beaten Tanzania and lost to Namibia before Sunday’s result. This was Uganda’s first game against a Full Member team in a T20I, and they celebrated the occasion in style.
The top two teams from the Africa Region Qualifier will qualify for the 20-team T20 World Cup, which will be hosted by the West Indies and the USA in June 2024.
Uganda’s win was set up by a three-wicket haul from the left-arm seamer Dinesh Nakrani, who played a central role in restricting Zimbabwe to 136 for 7 after they were sent in. Apart from captain Sikandar Raza, who scored 48 off 39 balls, no Zimbabwe batter really got going, with Innocent Kaia (23 off 23) and Sean Williams (21 off 24) failing to kick on from slow starts.
Uganda’s chase got off to a rocky start as they slipped to 12 for 2, before Roger Mukasa and Alpesh Ramjani joined forces to steady their innings. Ramjani was by far the dominant partner, contributing 40 off 26 balls to the third-wicket stand of 49. When he fell, Uganda needed 76 off 56 balls, and Riazat Ali Shah kept them on track with a 28-ball 42. Nakrani, the hero with the ball, was present at the finish too, contributing an unbeaten 14 to the historic win. The winning moment came with four byes off Raza’s bowling, from the first ball of the final over.