Cranes take flight in low-scoring thriller to register Uganda’s maiden World Cup triumph

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The wily left-arm orthodox spinner Alpesh Ramjani got Uganda off to a dream start with a wicket maiden, trapping rival skipper Assad Vala plumb in front of the stumps on the second ball of the innings. World Cup debutant Juna Miyagi compounded PNG’s misery with another blow in the third over before Tony Ura succumbed to Cosmas Kyewuta’s rapid pace six deliveries later.

Lega Siaka and Hiri Hiri ensured the team suffered no further losses in the powerplay, but some casual running between the stumps snapped their 17-run stand soon after, leaving them reeling at 36/4. The spinners then kept the pressure on with disciplined bowling on a dry track, led by the tournament’s oldest player, 43-year-old Frank Nsubuga.

Nsubuga conceded just four runs in his four overs and bowled two wicket-maidens, reducing PNG to 65/7 with only the death overs remaining. The tail could not add much, setting Uganda a modest target of 78.

Uganda’s chase began on a shaky note, with Alei Nao dismissing Roger Mukasa for a duck in the opening over. Norman Vanue followed suit, removing Robinson Obuya, and Nao struck again to get rid of Simon Ssesazi, leaving the Cranes struggling at 6/3.

A stabilizing partnership between Riazat Ali Shah and Ramjani added 19 runs before Chad Soper broke through, dismissing Ramjani. Dinesh Nakrani fell four deliveries later, putting PNG improbably in control at 26/5 after the powerplay.

However, 21-year-old Juma Miyagi showed excellent composure alongside Riazat, keeping the scoreboard ticking and inching Uganda closer to the target. The duo added 35 for the sixth wicket, but some tragic running threatened a final twist, with Riazat getting caught for 33, leaving three runs needed for victory. Ultimately, PNG were left ruing several dropped catches and 15 wides, as Kenneth Waiswa hit the winning runs with 10 balls to spare.

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