By Victor Kanayo
Namibia beat Kenya on Monday at United while Zimbabwe made light work of Rwanda at Wanderers to stay in the hunt for qualification in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier in Windhoek.
Before then, in the earlier group match, Uganda delivered the upset of the competition so far, to beat Zimbabwe.
The Ugandans had already sounded a warning to the rest of the competitors by pushing Namibia all the way on Friday.
On Sunday, they took the lessons from that defeat and utilized them to great effect against Zimbabwe.
As captured by ICC media team, the associate nation won the toss and chose to bowl, and they hit the ground running. An inspired piece of fielding by talismanic captain Brian Masaba saw Tadiwanashe Marumani run out without facing a ball.
Masaba was a hive of activity, smelling the opportunity to do something special very early in the piece. His bowlers followed suit, mixing their pace in a similar manner to what David Wiese of Namibia had done to them.
Dinesh Nakrani was the pick, snaring three for 13 in his four over spell. But he was not alone, as the pressure forced Zimbabwe to try and force the pace. Masaba, who was everywhere, helped himself to two catches in the outfield, to go with his run-out.
Skipper Sikandar Raza fought on valiantly, clattering four sixes in his 39-ball 48.
Eventually Zimbabwe had to settle for 136 for seven in their 20 overs, leaving the door open for Uganda. Incredibly, there was a run out in the opening over of the chase, too, as Simon Ssesazi was caught napping.
Ronak Patel (8) fell soon after, and Uganda needed to rebuild. Alpesh Ramjani (40 from 26 balls) and Roger Mukasa (23 from 33 balls) added 49 for the third wicket to bring some stability to the innings, as well as maintain a steady scoring rate.
Ramjani smashed two sixes and four boundaries, to help transfer the pressure onto the Zimbabwe bowling.
When they fell, Riazat Ali Shah was on hand to take his side home. His 42 from 28 balls took his country to the brink, before Dinesh Nakrani finished off a famous victory, with five balls to spare.
Nigeria Break Tanzania
In the second match of the day, Tanzania broke the mould by winning the toss and electing to bat first against Nigeria.
Skipper Abhik Patwa signalled his intent by notching 52 from just 40 balls, spraying six boundaries to the fence.
He added 52 for the first wicket with Ivan Selemani (26), but there was precious little that followed by way of support from their team. Wickets tumbled regularly, as Nigeria’s accurate attack simply built pressure and watched Tanzanian batsmen try to do too much.
The Okpe brothers, Isaac and Sylvester, both picked up two wickets, as did Ridwan Abdulkareem for the Yellow Greens. The Tanzanian effort finally stopped at 139 for seven, with runs still very hard to come by.
The Nigerian chase was also looking for stability, but players kept getting in and then finding a way to get out. Sulaiman Runsewe (12), Ashmit Shreshta (17), Joseph Adedeji (24) and Abdulkareem (18) all got starts, but there was still a job to be done.
Not for the first time this week, Prosper Useni took it upon himself, smashing three sixes on his way to a vital 31 not out. His power hitting took the drama out of the final stages, as Nigeria secured a famous win at senior level.
They won by three wickets.