Uganda’s cricket team has qualified for the Men’s T20 World Cup for the first time with a nine-wicket victory over Rwanda in African qualifying round.
The win meant the Cricket Cranes, ranked 23rd in the world, clinched second place in the six-team tournament in Windhoek, Namibia.
Uganda will now join Namibia at the 20-team finals in the United States and the West Indies next year after the Eagles qualified with a game to spare on Tuesday.
“It is pretty surreal. I can’t put words to the emotions we are feeling now as a team. It’s massive for Ugandan cricket and huge for African cricket, especially, for a country like Uganda to make it to the World Cup.” Team captain Brian Masaba said.
Having opened with a win over Tanzania and then a defeat by Namibia, Uganda upset Zimbabwe in their third game on Sunday, winning by five wickets in their first T20 International against a full ICC member.
The East Africans subsequently cruised to a nine-wicket triumph over Nigeria and beat neighbours Kenya by 33 runs on Wednesday to move to the brink of qualification.
They won the toss against Rwanda and decided to field, bowling out their opponents for 65 inside 19 overs. Uganda reached their target of 66 runs, for the loss of one wicket, in just 8.1 overs.
The team celebrated with a small band of travelling fans after opener Simon Ssesazi hit the winning run to clinch victory and qualification.
“A lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to get us where we are today,” Masaba said.
“It has been years of toil and hard work, four or five years of sacrifice. The fans joining in the celebrations was pretty special.”
Masaba believes the chance to face the likes of T20 World Cup holders England and established Test nations such as India and Australia next June could “open a lot of doors” for Ugandan cricket.
“I think the whole world realises there is a lot of potential outside the big nations… Hopefully this is something the government and sponsors can get behind.” the 32-year-old added.