The start to their Pepsi Girls Twenty20 Schools’ Cricket Week script was so unfamiliar.
A tournament opening 20-run loss to Olila High School sent strong waves down their spines.
But Jinja Secondary School exuded pure character to recover and bag their record sixth title yesterday.
Following an eight-wicket semifinal victory over holders Kololo - a repeat of last year’s final - Jinja’s momentum saw them beat St James SS by 14 runs in a captivating final at Lugogo Oval.
“Losing to Olila was a wake up call,” winning coach Habibu Mugalula told Daily Monitor.
The title was Jinja’s fourth title in five years. Yet for Mugalula, he had just beaten his former student Saddam Oyaga to his fifth individual title, making him the tournament’s most successful coach.
“Look, winning is a bonus to me. I am happy the girls have made it again,” he said after adding to the 2009, 2012, 2013 and 2014 gongs.
“Mugalula is a very experienced coach,” Oyaga offered. “Congratulations to him but to my players most. They have earned us pride by making their first ever final here.”
On a day bossed by heavy rains, littering sawdust allover the field was inevitable. Nonetheless, several St James fielders felt the pinch of the soggy outfield.
They slid in phases as Rita Musamali (34* off 32), Dinah Adong (16 off 18), Kevin Awino (12 off 15) and Stephannie Nampiina (17* off 9) guided Jinja SS to a comfortable 92-2 in 12 overs. By then, Mugalula appeared relaxed. Just as the tourney has panned out, it is tournament MVP Rachael Ntono who stood out most for St. James.
Despite the loss, she wrapped the showpiece with a respectable knock of 61* off 45 balls but it could hardly topple her former school.
The half-ton was the first in a final of this tourney but individually, lifting St. James this far meant Ntono left her name written allover this edition.
Pepsi Girls Schools Cricket final
Jinja SS 92/2 St James SS 78/4
(Jinja SS won by 14 runs)
St. James 47/1 Olila HS 25/2
Kololo SS 27/4 Jinja SS 28/2