Blood brothers Frank Nsubuga and Roger Mukasa were easily the standout players as Uganda edged Jersey by seven runs to scoop the Division IV International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) title in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia yesterday.
Victory also ensured Uganda’s new status as a Division III nation - a privilege they enjoyed last year before getting demoted after their no-show in Kampala.
In a game replayed because of Saturday’s thunderstorm-strewn rain downpour at the National University (UKM-YSD) Oval, Uganda managed only 90 runs on a wicket that was slow and turning square.
Former U-19 skipper Kenneth Waiswa (34 off 63) and Riazat Ali Shah (22 off 60), who featured in a solid sixth-wicket partnership of 60 runs, alongside Nsubuga (13 off 23) showed immense maturity to reach double figures on the tricky surface as Jersey’s slow left-arm orthodox spinner Ben Stevens 4 for 22 enjoyed a perfect day in office.
The low score left Uganda’s dug out under pressure and they were seen pressing hard their calculators and spreadsheets to find out what they needed to stay alive in what has been a cut-throat competition.
Knowing they needed to bowl at least 20.3 overs before Jersey reached the target 91 to consolidate the No.2 position on the log and make certain promotion to the Division III tier, captain Mukasa unleashed his quartet of spinners including himself to do damage control.
Mystery leg-spinner Irfan Afridi (1/23) and left-armer Henry Ssenyondo (1/29) bowled parsimonious spells but it was Nsubuga and Mukasa, who blew them away like a Tornado.
Nsubuga, who was adjudged Man of Match (MoM), spun cobwebs around the Channel Islanders to return immense figures of 4 for 20 in 10 overs including four maidens to leave the opposition struggling at 47 for 6 just after lunch.
His younger sibling Mukasa mobbed up the tail-enders with magical figures of 3 for 7 in 4 overs with the last man given out LBW on 83 all out to give Uganda an unexpected but deserving seven-run win in the low-scoring thriller.
Coach Steve Tikolo and his brigade return this afternoon at Entebbe Airport aboard Emirates and the cricket fraternity is set to give the latest sports heroes a fitting reception.
ICC WCL DIVISION IV
Uganda 90/10 Jersey 83/10
Uganda won by 7 runs
Malaysia 257/ Bermuda 168/9
Malaysia won by 89 runs
By INNOCENT NDAWULA