Damani up for genuine Challengers

While both teams have already been tipped by the bookmakers, Challengers and Aziz Damani have had contrasting starts to the 2017 Jazz Safari National Cricket League.

2016 runners-up Challengers were inspired by Arthur Kyobe’s 127-ball 108 century knock as they cleaned out the cobwebs and dust with a season opening 218-run win over Nile a fortnight ago.

To the contrary, Damani were welcomed to the topflight with a four-wicket loss to holders Tornado Bee last Sunday. For all Damani CEO Siva Koti’s investment, losing two in a row is an unacceptable.

Hence, star-filled Damani must break the duck against all odds when they meet Challengers in a highly-billed contest at Kyambogo Oval today. “After we lost to Tornado Bee,” Damani’s all-rounder Brian Masaba recollects, “We realised we can beat Challengers if we correct our mistakes. Our fielding was not up to scratch,” added the Cricket Cranes vice captain.

The 2017 UCA Super Cup champions Damani carelessly gave away runs in field, dropping catches in the process as Lawrence Ssematimba’s captivating half-ton of 50* off 86 helped opponents crawl to victory.

Ssematimba’s experience will be vital again as Tornado Bee face Nile in Entebbe.

Damani have added retired national team batsman Benjamin Musoke and off-spinner Fahad Sadiq. The latter will cherish the battle against his former club Challengers, who want to make it two in two.

“Damani are stronger opponents than Nile but we have the ammunition and must deliver,” Challengers’ left-armer Henry Ssenyondo said.

In Lugogo, Kutchi Tigers will face newly-promoted Charity Trust Fund - the first match for both clubs this season. Tigers, whose target is to make the top two, have signed former Patidar Samaj captain Ankit Patel and Shantilal Raghvani.

On the other hand, the Lawrence Ssempijja-led Charity have struggled to retain the services of Singh brothers Narindrer and Varinder.

They will bank on newly-recruited youngsters Ashraf Ssenkubuge, David Wabwose and Joseph Byaruhanga plus Ronald Opio, Simon Ssesaazi and Cricket Cranes star Jonathan Ssebanja for an opening day victory.

JAZZ SAFARI NATIONAL CRICKET LEAGUE 
TODAY AT 10.30AM - DIVISION ONE
Nile vs. Tornado Bee, Entebbe
Kutchi Tigers vs. Charity TF, Lugogo
Challengers vs. Aziz Damani, Kyambogo
Tornado Bee vs. Nile, Entebbe
DIVISION TWO
Wanderers vs. SKLPS, Budo
Jinja SS vs. Tornado, Jinja

Familiar start for Kyobe as Challengers run amok in league

The flow of runs on Day One of the Jazz Safari Division I National Cricket League was evidence there was hunger for action by the players.
The league start which was arguably the most delayed witnessed nearly 500 runs as Challengers began their title quest with a commanding 218-run victory over Nile at Lugogo Oval on Sunday. 
It was a ruthless display from Challengers where their bowlers showed as much desire for the gentleman’s game as the hard-hitting batsmen.
The highlight of it all was Challengers’ opener Arthur Kyobe, who fashioned a familiar start to his season with a calculated ton of 108 runs.
“It’s a great way to start after all the hard work in the nets and gym,” said a smiling Kyobe.
“The wicket was tough to play on at the start but I slowly gelled in,” the former Tornado player said.
Since joining Challengers in 2014, Kyobe often starts the season with big knocks but eventually fades. He thinks things will be different.
“I pray I can balance the equation this season. National coach Steve Tikolo has really helped me and I maintain form until the World Cricket League Division Three event,” added the 28-year-old.
Donning a new black and light green kit with a new jersey number 225 - his highest career score, left-hander Kyobe struck 15 boundaries in his 127-ball innings that ended when he was caught by Ivan Baidhu off Samuel Mwanja (3/55) after 33.2 overs.
Regardless, he combined well with fellow opener Hamu Kayondo (88 off 95) to put up an opening stand of 206 runs. New signings Kamal Shahzad tightened the loose ends with 29-ball 43 whereas Irfan Afridi’s late quick-fire 50 off 22 helped Challengers set 354 runs. 
 Afridi (4/28), Henry Senyondo (2/20) and new boy David Wabwire (2/48) shared wickets for fun as Nile folded for 136 in 25 overs.
Meanwhile, Tornado began new life in the second tier with a close shave. Henry Okecho’s side pipped careless Strikers by 10 runs with 28 balls to spare at Kyambogo Oval. Strikers needed 70 runs to win with seven wickets in hand but they bottled it.

JAZZ SAFARI NATIONAL LEAGUE

WEEKEND RESULTS
DIVISION ONE
Challengers 354/7 Nile 136/10
(Challengers won by 218 runs)
DIVISION TWO
Tornado 185/7 Strikers 175/10
(Tornado won by 10 runs)

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Battlelines drawn for Div. III ICC World Cricket League

The International Cricket Council (ICC) caught the Cricket Cranes in sort of slumber mood when they released the fixtures of Division III ICC World Cricket League (WCL) set for May 21-31 in Uganda.
The Cricket Cranes have not played a competitive let alone a trial match since November 2016 and although the net sessions have been quietly going on at Lugogo Oval, skipper Davis Karashani and Co. can now up the tempo of their preparations with battle lines drawn.
Uganda open their campaign with a fixture against familiar foe Canada on May 23 at Lugogo and then travel to the lakeside oval in Entebbe on the following day for a clash against tricky Singapore. After a day of rest on May 25, Steve Tikolo will be hoping to pick up their third win on the trot at the University Oval in Kyambogo when they lock horns with Oman. Malaysia will be their fourth opponent on May 27 at Lugogo before wrapping up the round-robin fixtures on May 29 with a date against United States of America in Entebbe. 
The tournament will climax on May 30 with the playoff finals at the three different venues with all the teams competing not only for the championship but also promotion to Division II (the top two) and avoiding relegation to Division IV (the last two finishers).

UGANDA’S FIXTURES 
May 23: vs. Canada (Lugogo)
May 24: vs. Singapore (Entebbe)
May 26: vs. Oman (Kyambogo)
May 27: vs. Malaysia (Lugogo)
May 29: vs. USA (Entebbe)
May 30: Playoff Finals

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Final bend for Nanji Kalidas Mehta Memorial Tournament

 Regular season form will count for nothing today when the four finest sides in the Nanji Kalidas Mehta Memorial Tournament lock horns for the big prize at Lugogo Cricket Oval.
Afridi XI are overwhelming favourites after topping the charts with 24 points after a flawless record from their six round-robin phase fixtures.
But for them to carry the day’s glittering trophy and Shs3m cash prize at stake, they will need their star man Irfan Khan Afridi and Lady Luck on their side as every side is itching to soil their record.
They take on a Keshwala side, who finished second with 16 points, that is not short of firepower and lively wires in the ranks.
KICC will curtain raise the day with a clash against MMK. Both sides finished the preliminary round with 12 points. But KICC captain Hanumant Katkar believes his side has a chance of making it to the finals. 
“We have a long route to victory,” said Katkar. “But we are going to take it one game at a time. We need three wins on the day.” Damani, Cosmas and MTN are the other sides that took part in the tourney.

KNOCKOUT FIXTURES 
VIRTUAL SEMIFINALS\
KICC vs. MMK, 9am
Afridi vs. Keshwala, 11am
FINAL ROUND
Winners Game 1 vs. Looser Game
2, 1.30pm
Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game
3, 3.45pm

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First Lady pledges government backing for World Cricket League

Having been a ‘victim’ of the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s security drive, with global showpieces being taken away from Uganda twice, Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) is ensuring they are not third time unlucky.

In August 2010, ICC Security Manager Sean Carroll from Australia ruled against Uganda hosting a must-win Intercontinental Shield match against Namibia following two bomb blasts that rocked Kampala on July 11. Uganda went on to comprehensively lose that first-class match by 10 wickets in Windhoek.

Then in October 2014, UCA looked on helplessly as more games were taken away from them with two ‘powerful’ participating nations USA and Bermuda allegedly at the forefront of pressurising ICC to change venue. Both countries from the ICC Americas Region insisted that Uganda was not safe to host the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division III tournament, once again citing insecurity because of the Al-Shabaab terror alerts then.

In the end, the alerts turned out to be mere scares and justice was served as Uganda finished second at the meet hosted by Malaysia and forthwith progressed to Division II.

Current state
Since ICC Development and Cricket Operations Officer Nigel Mascarenhas wrote to UCA on November 20 revealing that Uganda’s bid had bettered that of Canada and Malaysia to host this year’s event, UCA are seizing every opportunity to make it count this time.

When ICC sent two of its officials Sean Norris (Security Manager) and Gurjit Singh (Development Events Manager) on a four-day working visit last week, UCA worked overtime to ensure the pair give a good review of Uganda when presenting the final reports to their bosses in Dubai, UAE.

UCA chairman Richard Mwami pulled the strings further by squeezing in a ‘priceless’ meeting between the ICC officials with the Minister of Sports and Education Janet Museveni at the State House in Nakasero last Friday.

The First Lady has now pumped up the volume in the cricket fraternity with a couple of tweets on her social media page to prove that UCA have government’s full backing to pull off a successful event.

“The ICC delegation was in the country to ascertain Uganda’s sustainability to host the WCL Tournament,” read one of her tweets.

The one that went viral goes: “We’re ready to host the ICC tournament and we want to see cricket in Uganda revived. Uganda can be banked on to host the tournament.” Prior to meeting Minister, Norris and Singh also met the Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Assistant Inspector General of Police (IGP) Andrew Sorowen alongside several security firms and visited social amenities like Nakasero Hospital plus inspecting the three ovals; Entebbe, Kyambogo and Lugogo, where the tournament will be played.

And with the backing from the highest of hierarchies in Uganda, UCA will, now, not only be hoping to host an incident-free event but also look to successfully woo more sponsors on board to bolster the growth of the gentleman’s game here.

The upcoming tournament
Name: Division III ICC WCL
When: May 21-31, 2017
Where: Uganda
Venues: Lugogo, Kyambogo & Entebbe
Teams: Six
Nations: USA, Canada, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, Uganda
Benefit: Top two teams progress to ICC WCL Division II

2017 ICC WCL DIV III

Participating Nations
Uganda: 5th 2015 ICC WCl Div 2
Canada: 6th 2015 ICC WCL Div 2
Malaysia: 3rd 2014 ICC WCL Div 3
Singapore: 4th 2014 ICC WCL Div 3
USA: 1st 2016 ICC WCL Div 4
Oman: 2nd 2016 ICC WCL Div 4

By Innocent Ndawula

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