- Published in General News
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
Wanderers vs. SKLPS, Budo
Jinja SS vs. Tornado, Jinja
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
Challengers 354/7 Nile 136/10
(Challengers won by 218 runs)
Tornado 185/7 Strikers 175/10
(Tornado won by 10 runs)
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).
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
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.
KICC vs. MMK, 9am
Afridi vs. Keshwala, 11am
Winners Game 1 vs. Looser Game
Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game