Cricket Cranes deliver knockout blow to win Easter Series 3-0

Deus Muhumuza wrapped up the stiff chase of 186 with an upper cut shot for six over the third-man region as Uganda delivered a knockout out blow to defeat Kenya by six wickets and go 3-0 in the Easter Series at Lugogo Cricket Oval yesterday. 
There is still a game to be played by the friendly foes at Lugogo today but it will be a dead rubber with Kenya only seeking to salvage their dented pride with a consolation win.
Bowling all-rounder Muhumuza (23 off 19 balls) may have hit the winning runs but if it had been a boxing match he could as well have been an undercard fighter on the day.

The two main antagonists that took the fight to the Kenyan bowling and successfully wrestled the match from them were stylish stroke-maker Roger Mukasa and left-hander Shahzad Kamal.
Mukasa opened up early cuts (read chinks) in the Kenyan bowling arsenal with a boundary-filled 30-ball 43 and was unlucky not to reach the half-century landmark after one delivery from Kenya skipper Shem Obado Ngoche (1/46 in 5) kept low and disturbed his furniture.

But by the time Mukasa walked back to the dugout, the scoreboard was reading 74 for 3 in 9.1 overs and he had set a very good platform for his teammates to smoother along without the pressure of a steep run-rate.
Kamal, who ended unbeaten on a matching winning 75 off 55 balls, dug deep with skipper Davis Karashani (19 off 25) running hard between the wickets and picking the odd boundary in sensible fashion to avoid a twist in the tail.
And even when Karashani’s powerful cut short was caught at point by World Cup hero Collins Obuya, it was a little too late for the Kenyans as Uganda needed 58 runs to win from 62 balls – but more importantly with at least a handful of power hitters yet to bat.
“Once again the guys have showed that they can execute what they do in practice,” said Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo, who is coincidentally a Kenyan legend.

“We have been practicing situations like this. But to go 3-up in the series also shows that there is maturity in the side and the team is hungry to deliver and make the combinations work.”
Kenya assistant coach Peter Ongondo was full of praise for Uganda. “Before, Uganda used to play boundary cricket. But now their batsmen are willing to bat for long spells. We have also been awed by their togetherness and teamwork. We came here to teach the Ugandans but we are also learning something,” said the former Kenya opening bowler.
Earlier before the heavens opened, Kenya was coasting along nicely on 165/4 in 36.5 overs with Irfan Karim (65* off 116), Dhiren Gondaria (50 off 42) and Obuya (37 off 48) contributing handsomely.
The rain interruption, though, could not allow them to proceed with their innings and had the match umpires ask Uganda to chase 186 in 27 overs after Duckworth and Lewis Method (D/L Method) calculations – a test they duly passed with flying colours.

By INNOCENT NDAWULA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

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Steely bowling gives Cricket Cranes 2-0 lead in Easter Series

Team Uganda needed a touch of class with the ball to defeat Kenya by 27 runs and take a 2-0 lead in the Easter Cricket Series at Lugogo Oval yesterday. 
Defending their score of 199, the Cricket Cranes bowled out Kenya with 57 balls to spare, leaving the visitors in a desperate state with two matches left to wrap up the Series. 
"We are delighted with this win," said skipper Davis Karashani. "We showed a lot of character to claw back into this game. Kyobe (Arthur) showed maturity and awareness with that catch to dismiss Collins (Obuya). 
And the slow bowling department rose to the occassion to pile on the pressure and strangle the Kenyan batting. We have to continue improving though." 
Opting to bat first, Uganda had a unique brilliant start with openers Arthur Kyobe (30 off 41) and Hamu Kayondo (30 off 63) putting on 51 runs for the first wicket in 11.3 overs. 
Then Steve Tikolo's charges folded superfast to 91-5 by the end of the 23rd over with Shem Ngoche (2/25) and Nelson Odhiambo (2/38) doing the damage. 
However, the Cranes were back in the frame when Deus Muhumuza (30 off 45) and Emmanuel Isaneez (33 off ) put up 74 runs for the sixth wicket to help Uganda set 199 in overs. 
Kenya had a shaky start to the chase, losing Kaul Karan and Gurdeep Singh for 30 runs in the opening 5.1 overs. 
Then, two half-centuries from experienced lad Collins Obuya (50 off 54) and promising U-19 graduate Dhiren Gondaria (56 off 52) who combined for an 83-run third wicket combo got Kenya within victory range. 
But all crumbled when Kyobe threw the ball in the air for 12th man Brian Masaba, in for injured Frank Nsubuga, to catch Gondaria inside the circle. 
"It was an easy score to chase but we lost cheaply," Gondaria told Daily Monitor in a post-match interview. "I played a silly shot which cost us the match," the 22-year-old said.
Then skipper Davis Karashani (3/30) turned on the mojo to unscrew the wheels off the Kenyan ship, putting a cusp to Kenya losing seven wickets in a fast and furios mode when they needed 87 runs to win off 173 deliveries.
"My teammates did not apply themselves," Obuya noted. "We need to do better in the remaining two matches."
Notwithstanding dropped catches, Karashani rotated his bowlers and Roger Mukasa (2/3), who relinquished the wicketkeeping gloves to swing the match into his country's favour with two maiden overs including a wicket-maiden in his match-winning four-over spell.


EASTER CRICKET SERIES
GAME THREE RESULT
Uganda 199/10 Kenya 172/10 
(Uganda won by 27 runs)

By INNOCENT NDAWULA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

Kenya itching to renew rivalry with old enemy Cricket Cranes

Thomas Odoyo, Kenya’s coach, says it will be ‘business as usual’ when he leads his star-studded side in a five-match Limited Overs Easter Series against the Cricket ‘Cranes starting tomorrow.

The Kenya Simbas jet into the country aboard RwandAir this evening and Odoyo says his men will be bustling when the sun comes out for their series opener against the hosts at Kyambogo Oval on Good Friday.

“We have answered our brothers’ call,” said Odoyo, in a telephone interview with this paper after his team’s workout at Ruaraka Oval in Nairobi. “Uganda have an important tournament coming up next month and they wanted a strong team that will give them good preparation.

“Everyone is in and they should expect a good contest. For us, it is going to be business as usual.”

Uganda CEO Justine Ligyalingi wrote to Cricket Kenya (CK) requesting them to retain the squad that played against Nepal in the ICC World Cricket League Championship matches last month. And CK have duly obliged with an aim of helping their ‘younger brother’ Uganda get ample preparation ahead of the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament which the latter will host next month (May 23-31).

The last time Kenya played Uganda in September, Uganda carried the day with a two-wicket win at the Nairobi Jaffrey’s Academy Oval in the same format (50 overs) that will be played over the entire series. The Cricket Cranes opposition for the two slots at stake, to earn promotion to the coveted Division II, include United States of America, Oman, Singapore, Canada and Malaysia.

Uganda have been quietly under-going non-residential training under the tutelage of Kenyan tactician Steve Tikolo at Lugogo and Kyambogo Oval, and will be itching to show their ‘old enemy and big brother’ that they are a much improved outfit from their last meeting.

TEAM KENYA
Nelson Odhiambo, Dhiren Gondaria, Pushpak Kerai (Kanbis), Shem Obado, Collins Obuya (Stray Lions), Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Alex Obanda (Swamibapa), Karan Kaul, Lucas Oluoch, RushabhVadrhan Patel (Nairobi Gymkhana), Gurdeep Singh (Nairobi Sikh Union) Eugene Ochieng (Kongonis) and Irfan Karim (unattached).

Coach: Thomas Odoyo Assistant Coach: Peter Ongondo Physio: Moses Ndungu Batting Coach: Maurice Odumbe

EASTER SERIES ITINERARY 
LIMITED OVERS (50) CONTESTS
Today: Kenya arrives
April 14: Match vs Kenya
April 15: Practice/Rest day
April 16: Match vs Kenya
April 17: Match vs Kenya
April 18: Practice/Rest day
April 19: Match vs Kenya
April 20: Match vs Kenya
April 21: Kenya departs

By INNOCENT NDAUWLA & DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

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More tours for Cricket Cranes before WCL

The visiting Takashinga franchise from Zimbabwe came and took the inaugural Uganda Quadrangular Series trophy at the expense of their fellow rivals from Uganda and Kenya.

But despite the absence of a podium moment for either of the Ugandan teams, there were more than a handful of positives to pick from the eight-day tournament that saw every team play each other twice in the round-robin like league format.

Aside Ugandan fans getting a taste of international cricket for the first time in more than four years, a hatful of previously ignored players grabbed the opportunity with both hands and reminded the selectors what they are capable of.

Left-hander batsman Shahzad Kamal, all-rounder Daniel Ruyange and lively bowler Trevor Bukenya showed that they were not out of place at the big stage whereas youngsters Derrick Bakunzi, Arnold Otwani, Siraje Nsubuga and Lawrence Ssempijja continued to make hay after some naysayers had previously written them off.

The old guns nicknamed generals after they returned from self-imposed retirements led by skipper Davis Karashani showed that they are fully back, experience translates into class and belong to the big time.

Opening bowlers Charles Waiswa and Emmanuel Isaneez were a fresh breath of air to their respective teams whereas wicketkeeper Lawrence Ssematimba and Frank Nsubuga showed they still have some fire in their belly with steely displays.

“This tour has been all the worth it,” said Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) CEO Justine Ligyalingi. “Thirty of our players have got game time against opposition of international quality. And one of our sides came within a whisker of winning the trophy. We are grateful to Kenya and Takashinga. We now want to make this series a permanent fixture.”

Ligyalingi added that the UCA is keeping in line with Project 2017. “We are going to offer two more tours to the team, one at home and another away, to continue preparing them for the International Cricket Council Division III World Cricket League that we shall host in May.”

Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo, too, underscored the importance of the players to keep their feet grounded and urged UCA Board to continue selflessly supporting the team’s progress.

“We cannot rest on our laurels,” said the 45-year-old Kenyan legend. “The hard work must continue. Whoever puts up his hand and delivers will be picked. There is no landlord on the team. Our goal is 2017 and shall leave no stone unturned in preparation.”

UPCOMING TOURNAMENT
Name: Division III ICC WCL
When: May 2017
Where: Uganda
Venues: Lugogo, Kyambogo & Entebbe
Teams: Six (USA, Canada, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, Uganda)
Benefit: Top two teams progress to ICC WCL Division II

By INNOCENT NDAWULA

Tikolo leaves door open for Cricket Cranes hopefuls

Coach Steve Tikolo issued a ‘come convince me’ statement to the national team hopefuls when he named the two sides (Uganda XI and Uganda Select) that will represent the country in the Quadrangular Series that bowl off this weekend.

Uganda is preparing for the International Cricket Council (ICC) Division III World Cricket League (WCL) that will be hosted here and Tikolo showed his desire to ensure every impressive player gets a chance to stake his claim during the build-up series that will be hosted at Lugogo and Kyambogo Oval.

The released squads to be captain by Davis Karashani (Uganda XI) and Brian Masaba (Uganda Select) boast of some exciting talent that had previously not been considered in the provisional 31-man squad.

The notables includes include Challengers all-rounder Daniel Ruyange, Damani’s left-hander Shahzad Kamal, lively paceman Trevor Bukenya, Nile wicket-keeper Ashraf Ssenkubuge plus Charity siblings Simon Ssesaazi and Lawrence Ssempijja.

“This is a clear indicator that I have not closed the door on anyone,” said Tikolo after yesterday’s morning training session in the middle at Lugogo.
“I have been monitoring these players’ performances in the domestic competitions.

And whoever shows that they can deliver, will get his chance. I am looking at the big one – Project 2017.” But there were also some omissions from the squads including contracted Emmanuel Taban and Charity’s Singh brothers Varinder and Narinder.
“Taban has not performed to the standards I expected him as a left-hander and there are also other discipline issues involved.

For Varinder, he has not made himself available as he says he has a back problem whereas Narinder has not been convincing in his role as a batsman. But they must continue to work and improve,” added the 45-year-old Kenyan legend.

Takashinga’s contingent will be captained by international Forseter Mutizwa whereas bowling all-rounder Emmanuel Bundi will lead the Kenya side in the 10-day tournament.

TEAM NEWS
Uganda XI
Davis Karashani (captain), Arthur Kyobe, Hamu Kayondo, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Roger Mukasa, Shahzad Kamal, Lawrence Ssematimba, Deus Muhumuza, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Jonathan Ssebanja, Henry Ssenyondo, Ashraf Ssenkubuge, Lawrence Ssempijja, Emmanuel Hasahya Officials: Steve Tikolo (coach), Jackson Ogwang (assistant), Andrew Meya (manager).

Uganda Select
Brian Masaba (captain), Arnold Otwani, Abdallah Lubega, Aneef Shah, Ivan Thawithemwira, Daniel Ruyange, Derrick Bakunzi, Irfan Afridi, Fred Achellam, Emmanuel Isaneez, Abraham Oduch, Siraje Nsubuga, Simon Ssesaazi, Trevor Bukenya Officials: Michael Ndiko (coach), Emmanuel Isaneez (assistant), Alvin Bagaya (manager)

Takasahinga XI (Zimbabwe)
Natsai M’Shanwe, Forster Mutizwa, Tinashe Kanhukamwe, Roy Kaia, Tapiwa Mufudza, Charles Kunje, Richard Ngarava, Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Maruma, Innocent Kaia, Wellington Masakadza, Westone Masakadza, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Tymcen Maruma Officials: Eric Chauluka, Tafadzwa Madoro, Emmanuel Dube, Percival Sizara

Kenya XI
Emmanuel Bundi (captain), Pushpak Keri, Kavi Dosaja, Karan Patel, Peterson Kamau, Martin Mworia, Joseph Owino, Abraham Vadada, Adarsh Sawjani, Thomas K’Ochieng, Raul Seedhar, Aveet Desai, Aman Gandhi, Subham Patel Officials: Jimmy Kamande (coach), David Asiji (manager)

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Nairobi tourney chance for Tikolo to bond with Cricket Cranes

Since he took over as coach, Steve Tikolo, hasn’t had an opportunity to test his players in a highly competitive environment. The Four-Nation Quadrangular Series bowling off tomorrow in Nairobi gives a perfect chance. Nairobi tourney chance for Tikolo to bond with Cricket Cranes

Davis Karashani, Lawrence Ssematimba, Frank Nsubuga, Jonathan Ssebanja, Roger Mukasa, Arthur Kyobe, Charles Waiswa and Steve Tikolo are not new names on the international cricket scene.

Karashani is such a darling of many that even when he went into retirement prompted by a knee injury, many in the cricket circles continuously referred to him as skipper. 
The sextet of Ssematimba, Nsubuga, Waiswa, Ssebanja, Mukasa and Kyobe has been in and out of the national set-up, enjoying success and failure in equal measure.

From the days of Tom Tikolo in 2005 to the first stint of his younger sibling Steve as batting coach for the Cricket Cranes in 2011, the Tikolos hold a special place in the hearts of Ugandans; each of them is addressed as coach, irrespective of the dugout they are commanding.

Coach Tikolo and his players have been starved of international action and they feel only victory at the Four-Nation Quadrangular Series bowling off tomorrow in Nairobi will strengthen their bond.

“It is not about me,” Karashani repetitively told journalists at the team’s flag ceremony for the event involving unknown quantities Qatar, Saudi Arabia and host-nation Kenya, when he was bombarded with questions about his return from retirement at Lugogo yesterday.

“These guys (team) want to make up for the past near-misses and this tournament presents them a chance to show what they can do after two years of no action. They are starved and it is understandable that they are pumped up for this tournament.”

Coach Tikolo was speaking about team cohesion, too, ahead of the return to his motherland. “It is a chance for us to work on team camaraderie and composition,” said the 45-year-old Kenyan legend.
“Such build-up tournaments will help us gel.

We are looking to play a couple of more games against Zimbabwe’s Takashinga as we gear up for the Dicvision III ICC World Cricket League early next year.” Uganda opens its campaign against Saudi Arabia in the One-Day International (ODI) Series at Nairobi Gymkhana Oval tomorrow.

UGANDA’S FIXTURES
Four-Nation ODI Series
Sept.20: vs. Saudi Arabia
Sept. 21: vs. Qatar
Sept. 23: vs. Kenya
Sept. 24: Final
Four-Nation T20 Series
Sept. 26: vs. Saudi Arabia
Sept. 27: vs. Qatar
Sept. 28: vs. Kenya

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Legend Tikolo back as Cricket Cranes coach

The search for a new gaffer by Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) is as good as over.

Initiated in Nairobi soon after being sacked by Cricket Kenya, brokered in Zimbabwe where he was Team Manager for the Kenya Ladies at the just-concluded ICC Africa Women World T20 Qualifier, legendary Steve Tikolo flies into town today to put pen to paper and take over as Cricket Cranes coach on a one-year renewable contract.

Daily Monitor has learnt that UCA zeroed down on Tikolo after a vetting process that started in April involving a handful of renowned tacticians from India, South Africa, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe among others.

This will not be Tikolo’s first time to tutor Uganda after he sat in the dugout as Martin Suji’s assistant/batting coach when the Cricket Cranes won the Pepsi T20 African Premier League (APL) in 2012 and sailed through seamlessly to earn ICC World Cricket League Division II qualification in Bermuda 2013.

He also steered local franchise Rwenzori Warriors to the defunct East Africa Cricket League title after beating Kenya Kongonis during his tenure. But being head coach this time round, the 44-year-old has his plate full with a bumper schedule awaiting him.

After meeting the UCA Board on Thursday, Tikolo is expected to meet all the players vying for national team slots before embarking on a tedious project of scouting for new talent across the country. He will then select a provisional squad basing on the players’ performances in the league and net sessions he will have conducted in Jinja and Lugogo.

Uganda is eager to rub shoulders with the ‘big boys’ again when the ICC WCL Division III – a tournament UCA has already bid to host, takes center stage in January 2017.

Selected former coaches 
Aug 2014- Jan 2015: Peter Kirsten 
April 2014–Aug 2014: Davis Turinawe
July 2013 – Feb 2014: Johan Rudolph
May 2013 – July 2013: Henry Okecho

Tikolo at a glance

Name: Stephen Ogonji Tikolo (44 years old)
Place: Nairobi, Kenya
Nationality: Kenyan
Nickname: Gunnzie
Batting style: Right-handed
Bowling style: Right-arm off spin
Role: Batting all-rounder
ODI debut: February 18, 1996 vs India
Last ODI: Jan 23, 2014 vs. Netherlands 
Teams coached: Kenya, Kenya U-19, Kenya Women, Uganda, Rwenzori Warriors (Uganda), Southern Rocks (Zimbabwe).

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Okecho believes Baby Cricket Cranes can reach third WC

Coach Henry Okecho believes Team Uganda has the ability to win the imminent six-nation ICC U-19 World Cup Global Qualifier and secure the remaining ticket to next year’s Youth World Cup in Bangladesh.
“We have a very good chance,” the tactician told Daily Monitor. “But only if the boys play to their potential,” he said after releasing his final 14-man squad for the October 14-23 event in Malaysia.
Despite the unbearable omission of vital Kololo SS pair Rogers Olipa and Siraj Nsubuga who have to sit Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations, five schoolmates made the cut.

“We will surely miss both of them but their voids are well filled,” he said. Leg spinner Simon Okecho will cover former U-16 captain Nsubuga as Collins Byaruhanga does for Olipa.
Aside from Byaruhanga, reigning Pespi Schools Cricket Week champions Busoga College Mwiri have Zephania Arinaitwe, Collins Okwalinga and David Wabwire.
“Overall, it is a well-balanced team with talented players who have the x-factor you need,” Okecho added.
Schools Cricket Week MVP Kenneth Waiswa, Kampala Institute of Cricket Clubs’ (KICC) opening pair of Abdallah Lubega and John Gabula are other notable inclusions.

With assistance from Lubega, Derrick Bakunzi will lead the side that seeks to return to the final showpiece for the first time since 2006 against favourites Nepal, USA, Ireland and Papua New Guinea. Baby Cranes last played at the WC in 2004 (Bangladesh) and 2006 (Sri Lanka).

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