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Living the World Cup dream: Nepal make a thrilling return, and USA and Uganda announce their arrival



by Ashish Pant
The year 2023 started with Nepal conjuring 12 miracles to make it to the ODI World Cup qualifiers and ended with them qualifying for the T20 World Cup for the first time in a decade. In the group stage of the World Cup Asia Qualifier, they beat Singapore and Malaysia and made it to the knockouts despite losing to Oman. In the semi-final, they met old foes UAE, who were entering the knockouts unbeaten. In front of a packed home crowd, Nepal restricted UAE to 134 for 9 and made it to the final with eight wickets and 17 balls to spare, which also confirmed their qualification for the T20 World Cup. They lost to Oman in the final in the Super Over, but their World Cup ticket was secured.

Nepal in major tournaments
This is Nepal’s first T20 World Cup appearance since 2014. They made it to the 2023 ODI World Cup qualifiers last year, but couldn’t make it to the main event. In 2023, Nepal also qualified for the Asia Cup for the first time in history but failed to register a win in two attempts.

Rohit Paudel (capt), Aasif Sheikh, Anil Sah, Kushal Bhurtel, Kushal Malla, Dipendra Singh Airee, Lalit Rajbanshi, Karan KC, Gulsan Jha, Sompal Kami, Pratis GC, Sundeep Jora, Abinash Bohara, Sagar Dhakal, Kamal Airee

by Ashish Pant
PNG booked their place in the 2024 T20 World Cup after going unbeaten through the 2023 East-Asia-Pacific Qualifier, sealing their berth with a game to go.
This will be their second appearance at the T20 World Cup. Ten members of the current squad played in the 2021 edition held in the UAE and Oman. Assad Vala remains captain and allrounder Charles Amini is his deputy. The bowling unit will be led by medium-pacer Norman Vanua, PNG’s highest wicket-taker in T20Is.
Charles Amini‘s all-round abilities will hold the key for PNG at the World Cup. He is third on PNG’s run-getters’ list (994 in 48 innings) in T20Is, behind Ura and Vala, and second on the wickets charts (47 in 48 innings), behind Vanua.

PNG in major tournaments
In their only previous World Cup, in 2021, PNG were placed in a group with Scotland, Bangladesh and Oman in the first round but failed to win any of their three games.

Assad Vala (capt), Charles Amini, Alei Nao, Chad Soper, Hila Vare, Hiri Hiri, Jack Gardner, John Kariko, Kabua Morea, Kiplin Doriga, Lega Siaka, Norman Vanua, Semo Kamea, Sese Bau, Tony Ura

by Firdose Moonda
A former British colony with a substantial South Asian diaspora population (both before and after the Idi Amin dictatorship, during which Asians were expelled from the country), Uganda has a cricket history that comes from outside influence, but its present is home-grown. The majority of the current squad are Ugandan-born, developed in the sport through the schooling system and are now a pioneering generation of cricketers for their country. This is the first time a senior Uganda side will play at a World Cup, a feat that has not yet been achieved by the national football team.

Key players

Frank Nsubuga began his cricket career 27 years ago (although official records have his first cap recorded in 2004), and at 43 he will be the oldest player at this T20 World Cup. He is heralded as one of the fittest members of the squad, who runs 10km before training and aims to sign off from the international game after this event.
Riazat Ali Shah, born in Gilgit, Pakistan, is Uganda’s vice-captain, one of three batters in the side with over 1000 T20I runs, and one of their most reliable run-scorers. Riazat moved to Uganda when he was 16 years old but missed out on the next Under-19 World Cup because the logistics around his eligibility were not finalised. He was 20 when he debuted for Uganda in 2018, and is now one of their top performers.
Roger Mukasa and Simon Ssesazi are the other two Ugandans with more than 1000 T20I runs, and Ssesazi’s brother, Henry Ssenyondo, is the country’s leading T20I wicket-taker and six away from becoming the first Ugandan to 100 T20I wickets.

Brian Masaba (capt), Riazat Ali Shah, Kenneth Waiswa, Dinesh Nakrani, Frank Nsubuga, Ronak Patel, Roger Mukasa, Cosmas Kyewuta, Bilal Hassan, Fred Achelam, Robinson Obuya, Simon Ssesazi, Henry Ssenyondo, Alpesh Ramjani, Juma Miyagi

by Hemant Brar
They have qualified for the tournament by virtue of being co-hosts. This will be their first World Cup in any format. Wicketkeeper-opener Monank Patel will lead the side; Aaron Jones will be his deputy.

USA will face Canada once again in the World Cup opener in Dallas on June 1. India, Pakistan and Ireland are the other three teams in their group.

Key players
Corey Anderson, who played one ODI World Cup and two T20 ones for New Zealand, will turn out for USA this time. He made his USA debut against Canada last month and scored 28 and 55 in two outings. Anderson held the record for the fastest ODI hundred at one time, and USA will want him to roll the clock back to the form of that period.
Ali Khan, one of the biggest names in USA cricket, wanted to bowl as fast as Shoaib Akhtar when growing up in Pakistan. While that did not come to pass, he can land his yorkers at a decent pace. He has also been a regular in the CPL.
After the 2012 Under-19 World Cup, Ian Chappell compared left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh, who represented India in that event, to Bishan Bedi, saying the youngster was ready for international cricket. Harmeet made his T20I debut for USA last month, scoring 34 not out off 17 balls and taking 4 for 18 against Canada.
USA in major tournaments
They have never been part of a World Cup previously, though they did make it to the Champions Trophy in 2004. They came close for the 2022 T20 World Cup, when they won the Americas regional Qualifier the previous year, staying unbeaten throughout the tournament. But in the global Qualifier, with two spots to grab, they lost to Netherlands in the semi-final.

Monank Patel (capt), Aaron Jones, Andries Gous, Corey Anderson, Ali Khan, Harmeet Singh, Jessy Singh, Milind Kumar, Nisarg Patel, Nitish Kumar, Nosthush Kenjige, Saurabh Netravalkar, Shadley van Schalkwyk, Steven Taylor, Shayan Jahangir

*in last five games against teams featuring in the 2024 World Cup

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