African men in Uganda for T20 showdown
Having gone through the rigours of regional qualifying, the cream of the crop has assembled in Uganda, for the ICC T20 World Cup Africa Final qualifying tournament.
Hosts Uganda and Kenya represent the East, while Nigeria and Ghana are the protagonists from West Africa. From the South, Namibia and Botswana emerged from the qualifiers.
Fittingly, the tournament will starts with all neighbours from each region facing off on Sunday. Nigeria, buoyed by their under-19 side conquering the junior tournament recently, will lean on that youthful exuberance, as well as the experience from stars like Isaac Okpe.
Their junior side has still supplied some talent, including spinner Sylvester Okpe and the obdurate Isaac Danladi. They will meet Ghana, who were very impressive in the West Africa qualifier.
Simon Ateak was an evergreen with bat in hand, and there were important contributions from Julius Mensah and Frank Baaleri. The Black Stars will want those men to stand up once again.
From the Southern region, Namibia are certainly a side that is expected to do well. Jan Frylinck is a standout, as they look to rebuild again after losing a rash of talent. With the expertise of South African star Albie Morkel and veteran Pierre De Bruyne now at their disposal, they will be a handful.
Botswana are a hard-working unit that thrive on the basics. Karabo Mothlanka must again lead from the front, if they are to make an impression.
Kenya, the mavericks of the East, come bearing plenty of experience. Collins Obuya is a veteran from the 2003 ICC World Cup held in South Africa, and his nous and temperament is still very relevant.
Shem Ngoche is a wily captain, and they will look to get out of the blocks quickly against the hosts.
For Uganda, this week is massive for their cricket. To host a tournament of this magnitude speaks volumes of where their cricket has risen to, and players like Dinesh Nakrani and Zephaniah Arinaitwe are expected to help rouse the local support with some early performances.
The tournament begins in earnest on Sunday, with a massive carrot dangling for the top two sides at the end of the week.
Both will gain passage into the T20 World Cup Qualifier later this year, with the final destination being the T20 World Cup proper, in November 2020.
Given the nature of T20 cricket, each of the six sides will fancy their chances this week, and will look to hit the ground running.
It promises to be a festival of free-scoring and drama, as the battle to fly the African flag on the world stage intensifies.
Follow all the action live through here https://www.icc-cricket.com/live-cricket/live
Karabo Mothlanka (capt), Thatayaone Tshose, Adithya Rangaswamy, Tshepo Phaswana, Tharindu Perera, Mmoloki Mooketsi, Karabo Modise, Mohmednabil Master, Inzimamul Master, Vinoo Balakrishnan, Dhruv Maisuria, James Moses, Reginald Nehonde, Zain Abassi
Isaac Aboagye (capt), Julius Mensah, Godfred Bakiweyem, Simon Ateak, Kofi Bagabena, Vincent Ateak, James Vifah, David Ankrah, Frank Baaleri, Rexford Bakum, Michael Aboagye, Abdulai Mohammed, Daniel Anefie, Gallage Perera
Shem Ngoche (capt), Irfan Karim, Alex Auma, Dhiren Gondaria, Rakep Patel, Collins Obuya, Nelson Odhiambo, Sachin Bhudia, Lucas Ndandason, Eugene Odhiambo, Elijah Asoyo, Jasraj Kundi, Pushpak Kerai, Rushabvardhan Patel
Gerhard Erasmus (capt), Stephen Baard, James Bredenkamp, Jan-Izak de Villiers, Jan Frylinck, Zane Green, Zhivago Groenewald, Karl Birkenstock, Tangeni Lungameni, Bernard Scholtz, Johannes Smit, Christoffel Viljoen, Daniel van Schoor, Helao ya France
Ademola Onikoyi (capt), Chimezie Onwuzulike, Joshua Ayannaike, Ovais Yousuf, Daniel Ajekun, Isaac Okpe, Sylvester Okpe, Adeleke Oyede, Abdul Mohammed, Isaac Danladi, Vincent Adewoye, Chima Akuchukwu, Abiodun Abioye, Rasheed Abolarin
Roger Mukasa (capt), Hamu Kayondo,Arnold Otwani, Riazat Shah, Dinesh Nakrani, Deus Muhumuza, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Henry Ssenyondo, Emmanuel Isaneez, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Fred Achelam, Brian Masaba, Rogers Olipa
Sunday 19 May
9:30am Botswana vs Namibia
1:50pm Kenya vs Uganda
9:30am Nigeria vs Ghana