Saudi meal for Uganda at Easter

At the back of the minds of the senior national team players, the clock is ticking fast to the ICC World Cricket League Division Four Championship.
That imminent showpiece comes April 28 - May 5 in Malaysia and each second counts for coach Steve Tikolo’s charges.
The Easter weekend will see his side physically and mentally away from their families as Team Uganda fine-tunes preparations for the Asia mission with a Bilateral Series against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The five-match Series begins today when Uganda faces the men from the Middle East in a T20 blitz at the University Oval in Kyambogo.
“Our target is to win here as we prepare for our next tournament in Kuwait,” captain Muhammad Afzal said, as his coach Liaquat Ali translated, at the Series’ launch in Lugogo yesterday. “The weather is quite pleasant and we believe we shall put up a challenge,” added Afzal.
Their Pakistan-born coach Ali played for Pakistan Islamic team from 1986-1988 and has coached in Saudi since.
“The Saudi tour gives us the opportunity to work on areas such as team strategy, plans and combinations and look to perfect them before Malaysia,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor following a lengthy selection meeting on Wednesday night. Key is how skipper Roger Mukasa consolidates the batting unit that comprises of experienced Hamu Kayondo and Shahzad Kamal as well as youngsters Simon Ssesaazi, Zephaniah Arinaitwe and Simon Ssesaazi.
There should also be a final toss of the coin between wicket-keepers Fred Achelam and Arthur Ziraba.
Spinners Irfan Afridi, Frank Nsubuga and Henry Ssenyondo will need company of seamers like the Waiswas Charles and Kenneth, Deus Muhumuza and Brian Masaba.
The East African nation last sat on a cricket table with the Saudis back at the Four-Nation Series in September, 2016. “I wish to state that they are a good team. I believe we are up and ready for the challenge at hand.” Tikolo recalled the previous meeting in Nairobi. “When we played them in Nairobi, they seemed a balanced side with a strong batting line up, two good opening bowlers and some good spinners. An area that they lacked a bit in was their fielding.
That might have changed since it’s about 19 months now since then. We just need to focus on our game, make sure we back ourselves and play good cricket.” Tikolo added.

SAUDI ARABIA TOUR OF UGANDA

BILATERAL SERIES ITINERARY
TODAY - MATCH 1 (T20- 2PM)
Uganda XI vs. Saudi Arabia XI
Game to be played at Kyambogo

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE & MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA     

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

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