Ugandan cricket players celebrating victory on field. Ugandan cricket players celebrating victory on field.

Uganda in hopes to upset star-studded Afghanistan

Uganda are all set to make their debut at the 2024 T20 World Cup but they face a stern challenge first up against a mighty talented Afghanistan who had a campaign to remember at the 2023 ODI World Cup finishing sixth after defeating the likes of England, Sri Lanka, Netherlands, and Pakistan. 

Afghanistan face the two associate nations Uganda and Papua New Guinea in their first two matches and they would ideally want to win these two games by a big margin. Their other two games against the co-hosts West Indies and New Zealand are tough ones and with PNG almost pulling off an upset against the Windies, qualifying for the super-8s from this group could get tricky.

The Afghan team arrives at this edition of the World Cup with world-class T20 players who can dominate any side. The likes of Rahmanullah Gurbaz and Ibrahim Zadran are expected to provide firepower and stability at the top, while their middle order comprising the veteran Mohammad Nabi and the super-talented Azmatullah Omarzai, can be explosive and provide the finishing touch. 

The spin trio of Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Mujeeb Ur Rahman makes up arguably the best T20 spin attack in the world while the ever-threatening Fazalhaq Farooqi, Naveen-ul-Haq, and the rising start Omarzai will make up the pace attack.

Uganda will be hoping for the three left-arm spinners in their squad to turn up on the big occasion and with Afghanistan having just one left-hander in their likely batting line-up, Ugandan spinners are with more than a chance to pose a threat.

They reached the mega event through the African qualifiers where they achieved their first victory against a full-member side as they beat Zimbabwe by five wickets. Roger Mukasa, allrounders Riazat Ali Shah and Alpesh Ramjani, and spinner Henry Ssenyondo will be carrying the hopes of Ugandan supporters. 

Afghanistan are expected to play with batting depth with three fast-bowling allrounders Omarzai, Karim Jannat, and Gulbadin Naib alongside Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Naveen-ul-Haq and Fazalalhaq Farooqi making up the rest of the bowling attack.

Uganda have a settled opening pair in Mukasa and Ssesazi, while the allrounders Nakrani and Ramjami will be responsible for providing stability in the middle order. They can also play three spinners, including the skipper Masaba, depending on the conditions.

The surface at the Providence is traditionally slow and in the last 12 months, an average score of 190 plus has proven to be enough to win games at this venue. Crucial to add that some rain is also forecasted in the evening. 

Afghanistan are clearly the favorites against this newbie Ugandan side, however, knowing the nature of this format, anything can happen on its day. With the ambition to win by a big margin, the Afghanistan side will be hoping their opening pair gives them a blistering start a s they had since the end of the last World Cup making them the second most prolific T20 opening pair with an average of 41.91 in this period.