- Published in Development
Uganda captain Rita Musamali (R) and Rwanda's Sarah Uwera (2nd L) alongside umpires Vicky Prajapati (2nd R) and Jackson Nzayisenga (L) at the pre-match toss at Gahanga International Stadium.
Uganda coaches Ivan Kakande (L) and Michael Grace Ndiko (R) were not shy to ring the changes as they brought in three debutants that helped the Lady Cricket Cranes get off the mark.
After scoring six all out against Rwanda, debutants Mali showed some little improvement as they managed 11 all out in 15.3 overs this time round.
Uganda's captain Rita Musamali plays the slog sweep shot in her brief innings as she looked to up the scoring rate for her side in the first innings.
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.
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.
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.
When Team Uganda made their first-ever trip to India in 2018, they knew nothing about Vijay Patel and his healthy-sport clothing company Omtex.
All they knew was Sanjay Farm’s Swetal Desai who had extended an Olive Branch to Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) through Roger Mukasa and Charles Waiswa whom he had seen playing their trade for the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) XI in 2017.
The brand of cricket displayed by the two senior Cricket Cranes players while in Andhra Pradesh bowled Swetal, who asked the duo to extend a follow-up invitation to UCA.
But when Uganda made its maiden tour they won over more lovers, because of the fearless brand of cricket played with verve and skill, including Vijay.
This relationship between the two (UCA and Omtex) yielded quick fruits with the clothing company designing the current national stripe that is predominantly yellow, a warm-up kit that primarily red and black track-suit with red-stripes.
As a thank you, Omtex gifted UCA, 70 pieces of travelling shirts that national teams that have used as official wear since.
On Uganda’s second visit this year, Uganda has benefitted more from the partnership with Omtex, who provided a set of jerseys, sun-hats and caps for the team to use while on tour. Vijay also offered a set of fielding gloves and a coach from his set-up to tutor the team and six Under 19 players that stayed back in India for extra 15 days (Feb 24 – March 12) in a boot camp.
“I want to do more to help Uganda develop as a cricket nation,” said Vijay Patel who also gave designer camouflage jackets to Uganda’s best performers on the tour including 16-year-old Juma Miyagi (18 wickets) and batsman Arnold Otwani.
“Maybe in future we grow this partnership to a level where we give you kits bags, fielding kits and training jersey as well as other equipment.”
On a light note, Vijay finished as the best bowler in a Mumbai Corporate League (Agent Jack’s Cup) that his club partakes in.
The six U-19 players in India are scheduled to return just in time for a flight to the World Cup Qualifiers in Windhoek on March 15.