Uganda feeling positive ahead of Namibia challenge
ICC Media Release
Uganda's squad arrive in Namibia today ahead of its vital ICC Intercontinental Shield match which begins on Saturday.
It is currently placed second on the points table with 29 points from two games and it knows a win will take it into the final that will be played in the UAE later this year.
Uganda spent the last week training and playing at Benoni, near Johannesburg in South Africa. The team played a few practice games against the local sides Titans and Easterns to tune up for the Namibian challenge.
Coach Ebrahim Mohamed, also known as Barney, is confident about his side's chances.
"We haven't played any cricket since January when we played UAE. We had a couple of exchange tours with Kenya. But we had not played a good opposition. We are grateful to Africa Cricket Association for giving us a chance to come over to South Africa, which has been a good test for us," said Mohamed.
The conditions in Benoni, according to Mohamed, mirror the one in the dry and hot Windhoek, the venue for the last league game in the ICC Intercontinental Shield.
Mohamed is keen to exploit the advantage of knowing the Namibian players personally in this key clash.
" We have looked at their team and played against them as well. As coach of the Westerns in South Africa I have seen their players. I also know Johan Rudolph (Namibia coach). They are a good outfit and we have beaten them twice. We are in a positive frame of mind," opined Mohamed.
The Uganda coach acknowledges that Namibia will provide a stern test to his squad. His main challenge is to adjust to the conditions in Windhoek as quickly as possible.
Uganda coach Mohamed listed a few positives about his side. "The challenge for me is to build the squad afresh after every game. The team is very raw with just one or two experienced guys. We have some new fast bowlers who need to be groomed. They are getting better and we have fast tracked few of our under-19 boys," informed Mohamed.
The Ugandan bowling is adequate but it is their fielding which has drawn everybody's attention.
"Fielding has improved in the last 18 months since I have taken over. They are good athletes and quick on the field. They throw accurately and we have worked on our fielding for the last couple of months," Mohamed believed.
The major challenge for Mohamed is the fact that the team has not played a game in the longer version since January. A few three-day games against a Kenya XI before the South Africa tour were the only matches for the team, apart from a few inter-squad fixtures.
"We have played a lot of one-day cricket so you will see our batsmen come out with a swashbuckling mindset. I have tried to change that in the last couple of months and stressed the need to bat for long," added Mohamed.
Mohamed considers the Namibians to be better prepared.
"Some of the Namibian guys play cricket in England. Some others play here in South Africa for various academies. Most of the guys who are based in Windhoek also play the local leagues," reckoned Mohamed.
Namibia has named a strong pace attack for their game. But Mohamed is not perturbed by the strength of the home team's bowling.
"It doesn't bother us what attack they put up. We are playing a very good attack here in South Africa. The Easterns play Namibia quite often and they have been telling us about them. We have done some homework. If the pitch is bouncy we will do well because we too have four quicks," added Mohamed.
The Ugandan show in the ICC Intercontinental Shield has been noteworthy after it snatched a draw from the table toppers United Arab Emirates. The team pulled off a thumping win over Bermuda as well. The team is now banking on one final push to make the final later in the year.
"We would love to play in the final because it is important for Africa cricket as well. We took a lot of confidence from the way we played against UAE. The way we batted the last 20 overs of that game gave us a lot of heart. We are learning to play the four-day format," said Mohamed.
But more importantly Mohamed outlines the importance of the game for the nation as a whole.
"Uganda needs this team to do well. The upcoming four days are most important because it will be a huge boost to the nation. A lot depends on this team," said Mohamed.