Aziz Damani eye first silverware of season

The fraternity may still be healing from hosts Uganda’s failure to make the coveted top two places at the ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Regional Finals.

And notwithstanding the on-going ICC ODI World Cup on television, there is already cricket again on the local menu with the UCA Divisional Twenty20 Tournament set to climax today.

The Divisional T20 showpiece was primarily put in place to get players ready for the now concluded Africa T20 Cup.
Nonetheless, three teams are left in the fray, eager to take this Division One title with Aziz Damani waiting for either KICC or Challengers in this afternoon’s final at the University Oval in Kyambogo.

KICC and Challengers meet first in the tournament’s third eliminator this morning to determine who plays the final against star-studded Damani.

For KICC, they are eyeing to lift their first silverware since winning the Sixes Challenge in 2015.
“We have a chance to do so,” said KICC captain Hanumant Kaktar who has amassed 20 wickets thus far.
KICC has had quite a number of close shaves to trophies with the latest being the 31-run loss to Damani in the Unimoni T20 Cup final on December 9, 2018.

Katkar has since reinforced with the inclusion of Cricket Cranes’ all-rounder Deus Muhumuza and Lawrence Ssempijja who has 18 wickets. Wassim Butt leads their batting with 312 runs from 13 innings.
But Challengers are faring badly. Their last trophy success came in this format, winning the 2017 T20 Cup final against Damani early last year.

And now, chinaman Henry Ssenyondo leads their bowling attack with 19 scalps while Gerald Mubiru has 15. With the bat, Kamal Shahzad has 310 runs in 10 innings.

But the victor here faces a tall order to stop Damani who are eyeing their first trophy of 2019.
Since being formed four years ago, Damani has won the 2015 Night Cricket, Kishor Pabari T20 Memorial and Division Two League honours in 2016, Super Cup and Division One League in 2017 plus the League and T20 double last year.

The hunger remains abound. “We are ready to face any team,” skipper Ghulam Hunzai offered, “The team has good balance and we just need our main players to show up,” he said.

The team’s star player is Saud Islam who leads the batting and bowling charts with 346 runs and 21 wickets from 12 matches. Roger Mukasa also has 340 runs in 8 innings while Fred Achelam has scored 317 runs in 11 innings.

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Patidar Challenge Damani

It is pretty unfortunate that clubs in Uganda’s cricket do not last long at the top.
Often, it is a case of money bags dominating and when the wind blows away the sand at the base, it all crumbles at a go.

Tornado and Wanderers will always be referred to for their longevity not until their coffers failed to match the present-day conditions of the game. Premier was there nearly a decade ago, it was Tornado Bee yesterday and Aziz Damani’s lucrative offers today help them dominate with a star-studded side.
Tornado Bee took over from Patidar Samaj’s mini-slump. The latter was boss in 2010 and 2011 and notwithstanding their 2015 T20 Cup success, its cream melted.

Now back to the top tier, Patidar has scored 50 percent after four wins out of eight matches in UCA Divisional Twenty20 League.
With that glass neither half-full or half-empty, Patidar is keen on deflating Damani’s balloon when the two teams meet at Lugogo Oval today.

“We want to make the semi-finals here as we prepare for the 50-Over League,” Patidar’s skipper Ankit Patel told this paper.
His side is fourth with 16 points while Damani is second after winning all six matches to amass 24 points.

“It’s a very big game,” said the man who returned to the club from Kutchi Tigers after it earned promotion.
“Damani has almost the entire national team but we will put 100 percent and give them a good fight,” added Ankit who has so far made 177 runs. Hardik Patel has eight wickets.
But Damani has the country’s crème de la crème and Fred Achelam has raised his bar with 216 runs already in six innings while Henry Ssenyondo has 13 wickets.

“Achelam is on form, Roger Mukasa is our main player and Saud Islam always shows up,” said Damani’s captain Ghulam Hunzai.
“We are going to win softly with God’s grace since we have good players and good combinations,” he added.

Meanwhile, KICC hope to recover from their mistakes made against Damani last weekend when they face SKLPS at the lakeside oval in Entebbe.
KICC’s Wassim Butt leads the batting charts with 242 runs from 10 innings while captain Hanumant Katkar is interestingly top of the bowlers’ list with 15 scalps, one more than his teammate Lawrence Ssempijja.

Go-to man. Damani has the country’s crème de la crème and Fred Achelam has raised his bar with 216 runs already in six innings while Henry Ssenyondo has 13 wickets.

UCA MEN’S DIVISIONAL T20

TODAY’S FIXTURES - 10AM & 3PM
Patidar vs. Aziz Damani, Lugogo
SKLPS vs. KICC, Entebbe

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Ssesaazi, Arinaitwe lead batting charge, Damani off to a flyer

The race for slots on the senior national team to represent Uganda at the ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Qualifier due May will go down to the wire. 
And the UCA Men’s Twenty20 Divisional Tournament is the yardstick for that, then selectors are up for a headache while players are in for a pretty exciting and tight battle.

There is no batsman or bowler who wants to be left out for that showpiece that will be staged on home soil for two months. On Sunday, the run scorers went big and sent out a loud message to the selectors with many crossing the half-ton mark.
Pakistan-born Wasim Butt continued with the form as he made a quick-fire 56 off 28 to guide KICC to a morning 31-run victory over Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo Oval.

The double was complete for KICC, making it three wins in four tournament matches when left-hander Simon Ssesaazi struck a near-accurate half-century of 61 runs in the afternoon seven-wicket triumph over the Tigers.
“This is just the beginning,” said Ssesaazi. He recently made 244 runs in four innings, enough to emerge as best batsman for Uganda on their Sanjay Cricket Farm Tour in India last month.
“I am working hard to get a place on the national team. Then I hope I can keep it and we take it on from there but this is just the start,” added the top-order batsman.

Tigers had 109-9 with Nandikishor Patel making 36 off 31. Patel’s teammates had struggled to negotiate the bowling spells of Lawrence Ssempijja (3/16) and Irfan Afridi (3/17).
The chase was made easy by Ssesaazi, him making five boundaries and two sixes. Another new KICC signing Deus Muhumuza, also returning from India, fired 30 off 33.

“We are disciplined,” KICC skipper Hanumant Katkar stated. “I am happy that some of our players are really performing well,” he added.
The fire didn’t stop there. Left-handers Arthur Kyobe (52 off 27) and Arnold Otwani (45 off 46) punished SKLPS to help Challengers to a morning 108-run morning victory in Kyambogo. In the afternoon, Zephaniah Arinaitwe fired 66 off 39 whereas Kamal Shahzad struck 59 off 26 enroute to setting 239-4, enough to coast to a 158-run victory. Challengers are at 3-1 for the season.

Division one - cricket league

KICC 160/6 Kutchi Tigers 129/7
(KICC won by 31 runs)
Kutchi Tigers 109/9 KICC 115/3
(KICC won by 7 wickets)
Aziz Damani 183/6 Tornado Bees 99/7
(Aziz Damani won by 84 runs)

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Unimoni T20 success seals best season for Aziz Damani

The Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup didn’t heed to the fact that sport hates dominance as the tournament wrapped up on Sunday.

It ended with familiar sights as Aziz Damani sealed a rare season double after beating perennial Cup finalists KICC by 31 runs at the University Oval in Kyambogo on a day largely devoid of sunshine.
Now Damani players have the mandate to demand for something more than a celebratory trip to Kenya from club owner Siva Koti. 
This is after they became the first club since Tornado back in 2012 to win both the T20 and limited-overs’ silverware.

Best day
“It is our best day,” Koti said moments after his common loud celebrations with the players at dusk with the trophy and a Shs2m dummy cheque from sponsors Unimoni.

Businessman Koti had won a black t-shirt on the day with a gigantic print of the face of an African lion, much to show much Damani had roared in the club cricket jungle this year. 
“We have won all trophies in the year,” he said of the double, also done by the Damani ladies. 
“We had planned for this and we have achieved it. We motivated the players and had good training,” he added.

The players must be happier. “It wasn’t easy but we did the basics right,” left-arm pace bowler Charles Waiswa said in front of television camera.

Damani defended the 50-Over League by going unbeaten over 14 matches but in the T20, they had been floored by Ceylon Lions via the group stages on November 24.

Somehow they found sweet revenge on Sunday when the two faced off in the morning semifinal at Lugogo, Damani successfully chasing a target of 142 runs. Lions had failed to stop them from getting 35 runs from the last 15 balls.

Challengers denied
On the other hand in Lugogo, KICC had denied three-peat chasing Challengers by winning a low-scoring thriller by 11 runs after Suleman Sharif and Irfan Afridi had put another customary stand-out batting show. But KICC must consult their gods more if they are ever to play a T20 Cup final. It turned out that they lost a third final, like it happened in 2014 and 2016 to Challengers.
“We are not cursed,” KICC captain Hanumant Katkar said, “We didn’t do enough to win it. May be we are just a little shy of the podium but we’ll get there someday,” he said.

Obviously, once beaten, twice shy for KICC but Damani as well had other ideas having failed to unlock the championship door even with four straight semifinals.

Captain fantastic
With Damani opting to bat first, they relied on Saud Islam’s 36-ball 47 to reach a safe total of 140-8 even if KICC bowlers Falak Shar (3/26), Afridi (2/33) and Davis Karashani (2/23) had been resistant.

Then Wassim Butt began the chase for KICC like a man on a mission, the opener stroking six boundaries and five sixes but his innings ended at the 12th over with a fine knock of 68 off 37.

Unfortunately, his teammates couldn’t supplement in a more distinct way, Damani’s Bilal Hassun (2/13) and Riazat Shah (4/17) clipping their small wings smartly. Butt was ‘consoled’ with a Player of Series accolade while Sharif was Best Batsman.

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE & INNOCENT NDAWULA

Damani on Cloud 9 after rare double

Aziz Damani ladies cricket team has blossomed way beyond expectation at the grand stage of the game this year.
When Immaculate Nakisuyi delivered a master class to earn them their maiden Mehta Twenty20 Premier League title on June 23, little did they know that the crown in the longer format was close.
Now they were nearly flawless as they sealed a season double after clinching the topflight Jazz Safari National Women’s League title at the weekend.
Needing a victory with a bonus point to eclipse Olila High School and Pioneer, Damani’s wish was granted as they dispatched the old good and now minnows Wanderers by eight wickets the University Oval in Kyambogo to grab the silverware.
“We are grateful because it was not easy,” Damani ladies’ coach Yusuf Nanga said. It is the first time a ladies’ club is winning a season double since Wanderers did so in 2013.
It is also the first time that a franchise has won the same title on offer across both men and women’s fronts since Tornado Bee won the league gongs in 2016. Wanderers too won the T20 titles in 2013.
On Saturday, after both teams got off late, Wanderers’ batters Hilda Kabaseke (34* off 98 balls) and Racheal Kagoya (10 off 38) by passed hurdles from Consy Aweko (2/15) and Nakisuyi (2/18) to set 84-6 in 35 overs.
Damani ably chased the target in 15 overs with Jenifer Nabwana producing an unbeaten knock of 37 runs off 49 balls while player of the match Sylvia Kinyua got 23 off 17.
Wanderers’ Shakira Sadick’s 1/23 in four overs was rendered a footnote in the script.

RESULTS
Wanderers 84/6 Aziz Damani 87/2
(Damani won by 8 wickets)
Tornado Bee 95/9 Tornado 77/9
(Tornado Bee won by 18 runs)
JACC 44/10 Ceylon Lions 45/5
(Ceylon Lions won by 5 wickets)

CURRENT STANDINGS
Damani 24 points
Olila HS 23
Pioneer 22
Jinja SS 9
KICC 6
Wanderers 0

By Darrren Allan Kyeyune

Champions Damani shifts focus to Unimoni T20 Cup

A script never opened, read and one never thought of. 
That’s not even enough to describe Aziz Damani Cricket Club’s successful yet historic title defence in the Jazz Safari National League.

On Sunday, Damani scored a rare 100 percent after winning all 14 league matches with a last seven-wicket triumph over Tornado Bee in Entebbe to bag their second topflight men’s club cricket title in as many years. Rare!

It is the first time a team has won all matches and it will become ordinary if another team achieves this landmark. To be honest, not any time soon.

And by the way, it is also strange to imagine that the title race six years was sorted by a bye for four runs when Wanderers’ quest faded through then captain Denis Musali’s gloves from Dennis Tabby to the ropes against Tornado.

Now Tabby at Damani, they wrapped up this title with four matches to go and the cigarettes were out of the packets and whiskey was already flowing down the glasses. “It may look simple,” Damani’s CEO Siva Koti said after the win over Tornado Bee in Entebbe. “... but it was not all easy,” he said.

Winning may seem difficult but maintaining it is even more complex. The results of this season may not tell it all for Damani.
“We had to work hard to retain this trophy. There were two matches that were particularly not easy; Kutchi Tigers and Ceylon Lions,” Koti said.

And granted, Damani family deserved the barbecue and chicken roasting evening in Entebbe on Sunday whose pictures circulated on WhatsApp statuses for players like pace man Charles Waiswa.

But other matches came way easier than expected for example Tornado Bee on Sunday. With four straight titles coming off a 2013-2016 reign, now they were far from that as they were bowled out by Damani for 87 runs in 40 overs. 
Tornado Bee lynchpin Roger Mukasa made 22 runs off 19 balls while Nicholas Kebba had 21 off 80 as national coach Steve Tikolo picked figures of 4/15 in 8 overs.

With the bat, Damani didn’t need their top-order batsmen. Instead, they showed strength and limitless boundaries in class as pace bowler Bilal Hassun top-scored with a half-ton of 61 runs off 38 balls to coast home.

It is a dominance that three-year-old Damani want to expand to other competitions. The side is eyeing the Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup title which bowled off on Sunday. “We don’t want this to appear as a fluke or one-off. We desire to beat the challenge again in the T20s,” Koti added.

CAST OF LEAGUE WINNERS

2018: Aziz Damani 
2017: Aziz Damani
2016: Tornado Bee
2015: Tornado Bee
2014: Tornado Bee
2013: Tornado Bee
2012: Tornado 
2011: Patidar Samaj

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Aziz Damani, Kutchi Tigers in Jazz League title decider

Aziz Damani Cricket Club! Yes, that one. 
It is the name on everyone’s lips in circles of the Gentleman’s Game. 
They have bossed the Jazz Safari National League season like never before. Their unbeaten run of 10 wins in as many defines their prowess.

They are 18 points clear at the top of the eight-team log with a maximum 60 points. That statistic has a motto: ‘Do not mess with us,’.
Damani has beaten every team and their cruise sees them now a win away from their second league title in two years.
Even if there are four matches to play, Damani only need to beat second-placed Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo Oval today to be affirm the yellow and green ribbons on the trophy.

Allure of 100% record
“We would love to finish unbeaten if possible but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” Damani’s boss Siva Koti stated after last weekend’s 143-run win over Challengers in Entebbe. 
“So we would love to secure the title first,” he added. 
Knowing the mathematics, Tigers will hope to roar at the right time and stop what seems to be untouchable. 
Tigers’ skipper Alphesh Hirani knows there is little they can do to stop Damani’s league success.

Tigers can pounce
Little wonder he could afford a phone chat with Siva after last Sunday’s action.
But Hirani knows the Tigers can put on hold to Damani’s early title celebrations or most importantly, punch a hole into their solid bulging balloon encrypted: ‘the invincible ones’. 
The rest of the league sent Challengers to stop Damani last weekend but their batsmen Hamu Kayondo, Arthur Kyobe and Kamal Shahzad didn’t click in partnerships. 
Now Damani’s bowling unit has to deal with a Tigers’ batting line-up that has Ronak Patel, who hit an unbeaten 82-ball 105 century in their 185-run win over Premier last Sunday. 
Most of Damani’s players form the core of the senior national team - The Cricket Cranes - so they know what to expect and how to plot for another finisher in left-hander Dinesh Nakrani. Ankit Patel’s qualities cannot be overlooked.

Harmless chasing pack
Damani’s captain Ghulam Hunzai knows if they skipped the Tigers’ hurdle, neither a depleted and off-form Tornado Bee, struggling Ceylon Lions and youthful Strikers can hurt their flawless streak.

JAZZ SAFARI NATIONAL LEAGUE
TODAY’S FIXTURES - DIV. ONE -10.30am
Kutchi Tigers vs. Aziz Damani, Lugogo
Premier vs. Tornado Bee, Kyambogo 
Ceylon Lions vs. Strikers, Entebbe
DIVISION TWO
Avengers vs. KC Budo, Budo 
Nile vs. Wanderers, Jinja

LEAGUE TABLE STANDINGS 
Team P W L NR Pts NRR
Aziz Damani 10 10 0 0 60 3.16
Kutchi Tigers 10 7 3 0 42 1.09
Challengers 11 6 5 0 35 0.61
Strikers 9 4 4 1 25 0.25
Tornado Bees 9 4 4 1 25 -0.76
KICC 11 4 7 0 22 -1.15
Ceylon Lions 11 3 8 0 18 -0.26
Premier 11 2 9 0 11 -2.80
*NR denotes No Result 
* NRR denotes Net Run Rate

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Damani dominance in air after winning T20 title

Ugandan sport has witnessed spells where teams dominate different disciplines. 
The SC Villa of the 1980s’ stands out. The good old Falcons and today’s City Oilers will be remembered for years in men’s basketball.

Tornado Bee had its share a few years ago in club cricket but something bigger could be brewing.
Yet again, Aziz Damani Masaka Cricket Club was at the top of the podium after the ladies clinched their maiden Mehta Twenty20 Premier League title on Saturday.

Only four years old, Damani has swept all accolades on offer on the men’s front bar the T20 title and for the women’s team formed a year ago, the tree is dropping fruits faster than expected. On Saturday, Damani ably chased a target of 103 runs to stop Olila High School from retaining the T20 crown in the final washed by a sizeable number of fans at Lugogo Oval. “Today is our day,” Damani CEO Siva Koti would say at the podium, moments before captain Gertrude Candiru lifted the trophy in company of teammates.

As Right Said Fred’s famous Stand up for the champions played at 6:04pm, the imagination of a firm grip by Damani on Uganda’s cricket would sink in.

Damani’s men are on course to retain the topflight title following six successive wins. 
And for the ladies, coach Yusuf Nanga has laid firm foundation with students from Masaka SS and now blends with stars like Teddy Oyella, Kenyan experience, stars captain Candiru and Immaculate Nakisuyi.

The tournament cusp belonged to Nakisuyi. In the final, she first picked figures of 3/10 as they stopped 2017 winners Olila at 102-9 majorly thanks to Esther Iloku (34 off 32) and Gloria Obukor (19 off 23). With the bat, Nakisuyi showed a fine glimpse of the future by top-scoring with a pivotal 30 runs off 19 balls including three boundaries and a six.

Kenyan import Sarah Bhakita stood out as well with a 22-ball 24 as her experience came to the fore when Olila’s cast forgot the basics under pressure.

Damani were home in 16.2 overs, sparking off celebrations accompanied with Shs1m and as many packs of sugar from sponsors Mehta.

“We tried to play out all our 20 overs,” said winning coach Nanga. “It is important that we have won here which inspires our feeder team, ” he added.

WOMEN’S T20 LEAGUE RESULTS
FINAL
Olila High 102/9 Aziz Damani 106/6 
(Aziz Damani won by 5 wickets)
SEMIFINALS 
KICC 89/9 Olila High 90/1
(Olila High won by 9 wickets)
Aziz Damani 129/7 Pioneer 91/6
(Aziz Damani by 35 runs)

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