Arinaitwe ton ensures Uganda ends on high

 There was no wooden spoon for the Baby Cricket Cranes and more importantly no relegation to the Africa Division II as Uganda wrapped up its bittersweet campaign at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under 19 Africa World Cup Qualifier in Windhoek, Namibia on Sunday.

The last three countries on the log; fiery West Africans Sierra Leone, neighbouring arch-foes Kenya, who were at the last World Cup in 2018 New Zealand and bottom finishers Tanzania will have to go through the ignominy of playing Division II qualifiers next year to earn the right to play at this level again, in 2021.

But that consolation didn’t suffice to the many fans that were pregnant with expectation that this particular generation of U-19s would halt the wait to appear in another World Cup since the 2006 crop that played in the Sri Lanka edition.

It was a little too late for Uganda, even after Uganda mauled Tanzania by 8 wickets with a 226 balls remaining in the last round of this tense, thrilling and action-packed showpiece.

Uganda’s top order batsmen struggled for rhythm early on in the tournament and even when they got starts, they were guilty of not converting.

The only time it happened against Tanzania, coach Jackson Ogwang’s boys steamrolled their opponents Tanzania; making a mockery of their set score of 144 runs by chasing it down in just 12.2 overs.

Zephaniah Arinaitwe, who was the only player with a senior national team cap, oscillated between mediocrity and flashes of brilliance. 
A free-scoring stroke maker Arinaitwe primarily held Uganda’s key to progress because of his prior exposure.
When he muscled a 30-ball 69 against Namibia, Uganda were in dreamland but his dismissal at 74 runs in 7.2 overs signaled the end of Uganda’s hunt for the hosts set score of 250.

Remarkable debuts
Against Tanzania in what the Ugandan contingent in Windhoek termed as their ‘grande finale’, Arinaitwe showed his well-documented destructive nature with a 40-ball 102 that was littered with six boundaries and nine beautiful sixes - an innings of super timing.
Uganda’s bowling which will hardly take too much blame on this particular trip; had earlier on held fort. Opening bowler Juma Miyaji returned stellar figures of 3 for 21 in 9.3 overs and captain Frank Akankwasa’s 10-over spell of spin prized out three scalps for a measly 33 runs.

More positives
There were more positives for the Baby Cricket Cranes as Tanzania’s batsmen; Ashish Shah (40 off 91) and Aahil Jasani (28 off 56) opted to build a wall of attrition with tournament debutants; Pascal Murungi (aged 14) and Edwin Nuwagaba (aged 15), who is Arinaitwe’s younger brother, respectively snared two wickets and bowled a maiden first over in international cricket with the opponents’ innings ending in 48.3 overs.
Such was Uganda’s final flourish but it was a little too late as it will be Nigeria going to first-ever U-19 World Cup.

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Ssesaazi, Arinaitwe lead batting charge, Damani off to a flyer

The race for slots on the senior national team to represent Uganda at the ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Qualifier due May will go down to the wire. 
And the UCA Men’s Twenty20 Divisional Tournament is the yardstick for that, then selectors are up for a headache while players are in for a pretty exciting and tight battle.

There is no batsman or bowler who wants to be left out for that showpiece that will be staged on home soil for two months. On Sunday, the run scorers went big and sent out a loud message to the selectors with many crossing the half-ton mark.
Pakistan-born Wasim Butt continued with the form as he made a quick-fire 56 off 28 to guide KICC to a morning 31-run victory over Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo Oval.

The double was complete for KICC, making it three wins in four tournament matches when left-hander Simon Ssesaazi struck a near-accurate half-century of 61 runs in the afternoon seven-wicket triumph over the Tigers.
“This is just the beginning,” said Ssesaazi. He recently made 244 runs in four innings, enough to emerge as best batsman for Uganda on their Sanjay Cricket Farm Tour in India last month.
“I am working hard to get a place on the national team. Then I hope I can keep it and we take it on from there but this is just the start,” added the top-order batsman.

Tigers had 109-9 with Nandikishor Patel making 36 off 31. Patel’s teammates had struggled to negotiate the bowling spells of Lawrence Ssempijja (3/16) and Irfan Afridi (3/17).
The chase was made easy by Ssesaazi, him making five boundaries and two sixes. Another new KICC signing Deus Muhumuza, also returning from India, fired 30 off 33.

“We are disciplined,” KICC skipper Hanumant Katkar stated. “I am happy that some of our players are really performing well,” he added.
The fire didn’t stop there. Left-handers Arthur Kyobe (52 off 27) and Arnold Otwani (45 off 46) punished SKLPS to help Challengers to a morning 108-run morning victory in Kyambogo. In the afternoon, Zephaniah Arinaitwe fired 66 off 39 whereas Kamal Shahzad struck 59 off 26 enroute to setting 239-4, enough to coast to a 158-run victory. Challengers are at 3-1 for the season.

Division one - cricket league

KICC 160/6 Kutchi Tigers 129/7
(KICC won by 31 runs)
Kutchi Tigers 109/9 KICC 115/3
(KICC won by 7 wickets)
Aziz Damani 183/6 Tornado Bees 99/7
(Aziz Damani won by 84 runs)

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Arinaitwe, Akankwasa relish learning chance at ICC High Performance Camp

At the turn of November, Uganda’s cricket walked on egg shells after the nation was stabbed in cold blood, breathing to last place at the ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Oman.

With the changing ICC Associate nations’ cycle in line with the ODI World Cup, the Cricket Cranes set-up as well ought to revolve from the long-serving old guards to the new guns. To match that, Uganda Cricket Association CEO Martin Ondeko last month received an invitation for U-19 pair of Zephaniah Arinaitwe and Frank Akankwasa to feature at the ICC High Performance camp in Potchestroom, North West, South Africa from January 14 - February 20.
Having beaten the visa hitches to the Rainbow Nation, Arinaitwe and Akankwasa depart tonight for the priceless experience with other selected talents from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Botswana for the month’s camp.

“They have been rewarded for performing consistently over the last 18 months and we would like to further develop them,” read part of the letter by ICC Africa’s Kuben Pillay.
Primed to be the country’s batting lynch-pin, Arinaitwe was thrilled by the selection. “I earned this call through my hard work. I did my job. scoring runs over the last months,” said a smiling Arinaitwe prior to departure. “I plan to learn a lot of things and I want to prove to them that I can do what I have learnt. I target to score as many tons, if there are matches to play,” added the 17-year-old.

He is in familiar company of Akankwasa. “I hope to learn many things especially my confidence and polish my skills especially batting,” stated the all-rounder. 
Akankwasa is captain of the Baby Cricket Cranes who have already started preparing for ICC U-19 Africa World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for March this year in Nambia.

AFRICA ACADEMY 2019
Uganda Players: 
Frank Akankwasa, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, 
Participating Countries: 
Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, 
Mozambique, Botswana and Uganda.

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Arinaitwe ton lifts Uganda

Youngster Zephaniah Arinaitwe, playing with a stomach bug, threw caution to the wind and put on a batting masterstroke with a 51-ball ton of 107 runs to ensure Uganda started their three-match 50-over build-up for the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division III scheduled for Oman in Novermber on a winning note by six wickets.

The 17-year-old complained of stomach pains in the first innings as he kept wickets - for the second time on this tour - after captain of the day Brian Masaba had lost the toss and been asked to have a bowl.
Arinaitwe handed over the glove-work duties to left-hand opening batsman Simon Ssesazi for the rest of the innings as the hosts Kwazulu Natal Inland Academy set a commanding 269 for 4 in the allotted 50 overs at the Pietermaritzburg City Oval yesterday.

But Arinaitwe returned after the lunch break to open the innings and he batted in a ruthlessness manner - hitting everything in his range enroute to 16 boundaries and four sweetly timed sixes, and by the time he fell Uganda was just 119 runs away from victory at 151 for 2 in 16.3 overs.
“I love scoring quick,” Arinaitwe, in his ever cheerful manner told Daily Monitor. 
“Getting these centuries in quick time is what I would love to do for my country always. It gives me great joy to know that I can give my team a chance to win.” 

It was St John SS Mukono student’s sixth century of the season that has also seen him notch 197 off 66 balls last month at the Hayer StarField Tournament in Nairobi and a double-century in the Schools Cricket Week Qualifiers - a couple of months ago. 
Hamu Kayondo (78 not out off 78) and Riazat Ali Shah (53 off 39) got half centuries during the chase that saw Uganda keep the Academy Boys calm and it was fitting that captain Masaba (4* off 7 balls) got the winning runs. 
At the weekend, Uganda wrapped up its Africa T20 Cup campaign with two sensational victories against Western Province and eventual ‘Pool of Death’ winners Easterns in Group A. The team takes some rest today and will be back into the mix for another build up tomorrow.

By Innocent Ndawula

World Cup Qualifier -Coaches keep trust in Arinaitwe

The effort put up in the two warm-up matches against Kenya select sides have defined Team Uganda’s new batting potential ahead of the ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifiers.

Regardless, there is still concern notwithstanding ability to score 250 plus runs in games against the Nairobi XI and Kenya’s seniors earlier this week.

The team’s best batsman Zephaniah Arinaitwe (pictured bowling) is struggling to perform. “He is going through a patch of poor form,” Team Uganda assistant coach Jackson Ogwang told this paper.

Now in four successive warm-up ties, the opening batsman Arinaitwe has struggled to cross the 25-run mark against the Uganda Select sides and Kenya.

In those innings, his best return was 21 runs in the last tie against Uganda XI at Lugogo last Saturday.

He made 14 runs off 17 balls against the Nairobi Select but struggled further with only 8 off 7 against Kenya XI on a batting wicket at Kanbis Sports Club in Eastleigh this week.

But Ogwang still trusts the 16-year-old. “I believe in his abilities. He just needs one good score to get his confidence back and he is good to go.”

“To beat the odds, we need Arinaitwe scoring. We trust him and shall work with him to improve the figures in one way or another,” coach Francis Otieno noted.

Arinaitwe was Uganda’s best batsman with 114 runs in five innings during the last pursuit for a ticket to the ICC Youth World Cup in Malaysia two years ago.

His best score was a 37-ball 59 in the nine-wicket win over Papua New Guinea before Uganda came fourth in the road to Bangladesh.

“I will come better. I need to be patient too,” Arinaitwe offered in a recent chat with this paper.

“He knows what the team requires of him and we’ll back him up,” captain Kenneth Waiswa said.

The Baby Cricket Cranes begin their quest for the lone slot to World Cup slated for New Zealand next year against Botswana at Jaffrey Oval tomorrow.

Uganda last took part at the global event 12 years ago in Sri Lanka.

ICC AFRICA U-19 
WC QUALIFIER - JULY 1-8
PLAYING TOMORROW
Uganda vs. Botswana
Kenya vs. Ghana 
SUNDAY
Ghana vs. Uganda
Kenya vs. Botswana

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE & INNOCENT NDAWULA

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