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T20 World Cup: ‘We carry whole country’s hopes on our backs’, says Uganda captain ahead of opener

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T20 World Cup: ‘We carry whole country’s hopes on our backs’, says Uganda captain ahead of opener

Georgetown, June 3 (IANS) As Debutant Uganda will play their ICC T20 World Cup opener on Monday, facing Afghanistan in Providence Stadium, captain Brian Masaba reflected on the team’s sentiment and said that they “carry a whole country’s hopes” on their backs.

“Absolutely huge game for us, our first game at a World Cup, first ever for Uganda in our history, so we are very excited to get going. Obviously, there’s a bit of nerves but we’ve got to keep our focus on the game and try to get the result that we need because we need to kick off the tournament in the right way with good results,” Masaba said on the eve of the match.

The T20 showpiece marks a significant milestone not only for Uganda’s cricket but for the nation’s sporting history. Their journey to the World Cup was marked by determination and resilience. They secured their spot via the Africa Qualifier, defeating Zimbabwe by five wickets and finishing second on the seven-team points table. Namibia was the only team to best them.

“There’s obviously a lot of excitement back home. It’s not just a first for us in cricket, but I believe we are the third team in any sporting discipline in the country to qualify for the World Cup. So, it’s not a small feat.

“So it’s not just the cricket community that is supporting us, there’s a lot of the other guys in all the other sports, as well as the government back home. So yeah, the whole country is super proud of what this team has achieved and they’re looking forward to seeing us going out there and representing the country with pride. It’s a huge responsibility for us, it’s not just about the cricket anymore, but we carry a whole country’s hopes on our backs.”

“After our qualifier last November, we obviously realised we needed to play a lot of cricket to prepare ourselves for this World Cup; it’s a different level for us. And it was very important for us as a team to make sure we come here well prepared having got the right kind of practice. So it was a couple of tours to Sri Lanka, India as well, but a lot of intra-squad games as well.”

In the T20 World Cup, Uganda finds themselves in a challenging group alongside West Indies, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Afghanistan.

However, Masaba expressed confidence in his team’s preparation to face the top teams in the me. “We believe we have practiced, we have prepared well for this tournament. Yes, it’s a huge challenge for us. It’s a tough group, but we look forward to the challenge. It’s a couple of the top teams in the world, but it’s going to be very important for us how we show up tomorrow and the kind of cricket that we display out there.”

Drawing inspiration from Papua New Guinea’s close match against West Indies, Masaba noted, “We were following that game very keenly. Obviously, we’re not too familiar with the local conditions, so we needed to pick up what information we could from that game. And the way Papua New Guinea went out there and played, it’s very good signs for us as well. It shows that the gap is not as huge as a lot of people want to believe.”

When asked about emerging talents in the squad, Masaba highlighted the performance of the fast-bowling duo Juma Miyagi and Cosmas Kyewuta and said, “They have done well for us over the last couple of years and being as young as they are, it’s very exciting to see them do what they do. Hopefully, this platform provides a bit more opportunity for them going forward.

“But you know we’ve got seasoned performers like Riazat Ali Shah as well, super talented lad, allrounder. He has won a couple of crunch games for us. So it’s a very dynamic team. It’s not super reliant on any one person. More often than not it’s a huge team effort that gets us our win, so you know that’s something I look forward to us doing again in this tournament,” he concluded.

 

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