Uganda have sealed qualification to the 2022 ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies, producing a dramatic ending to the African Region Qualifier in Rwanda.
Three teams ended tied on six points after the round-robin format concluded in Kigali, but there was final day disappointment for Tanzania who were leading the standings alone going into the last round of fixtures.
Tanzania were bundled out for just 51 on the final day, as the experienced Ugandan attack preyed on their understandable nerves. The consequences of that result meant Namibia had the impossible task of scoring the 185 they needed to beat Nigeria in less than five overs, to usurp Uganda on run rate.
ICC Regional Development Manager Patricia Kambarami explained that the final standings, with Uganda, Tanzania and Namibia separated only by net run rate, emphasised the continued growth of the game at the junior level across the continent.
“This clearly shows the progress of the members in Africa and bodes well for the future of the game. Nigeria won their way to the previous World Cup, but they have inspired their rivals to work harder.”
The West Africans had a tough tournament and now head back to Division Two in 2022, alongside Rwanda.
“It is a bitter pill for them to swallow, but they have created depth in their structures, and we expect them to be back stronger,” Kambarami encouraged.
The quality of cricket on display throughout the Tournament was also encouraging, headlined by the maturity that Pascal Murungi led his Ugandans with, even after losing their opening game to Namibia.
There were fine individual performances too, such as Cyrus Kakuru notching a classy 116 from just 102 balls against Rwanda.
Jan Balt and Ramon Wilmot produced consistent all-round performances for Namibia, who will consider themselves desperately unlucky to have not achieved their goal of following in the footsteps of their senior men, who are preparing for the T20 World Cup.
Though Tanzania were pipped to the post, they can take heart from the performances of their young stars. Laksh Bakrania is still just 14 years old, but he and fellow spinner Yalinde Nkanya were stand-out performers for Tanzania. Nkanya’s six for 24 in eight overs against Nigeria was one of the individual performances of the tournament.
This bodes well for the future of African cricket, and Kambarami also praised the Rwandan Cricket Association for their job in hosting and observing all Covid-19 related protocols. Remarkably, there was not a single positive test returned during the testing throughout the event.
“Rwanda Cricket Association has been warm and welcoming, and they can be proud of the work they have put in thus far. With all teams and officials safely back in their home countries, they can reflect on a job very well done”.
After successful completion of the Women’s and Under-19 Africa Qualifiers, attention now turns to the Men as the pathway to the T20 World Cup 2022 begins.
Seven teams will contest the Sub Regional Africa A Qualifier beginning October 16 while five teams will compete in the Sub Regional Africa B Qualifier starting November 2.