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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Kutchi Tigers punish lazy Strikers, Aziz Damani flying

It will take youthful club Strikers a little while to recover from their own mistakes that saw them lose for the second time in the Jazz Safari National League on Sunday. 
They were right on the money in pursuit of Kutchi Tigers’ set target of 248 but lost seven wickets in a space of 25 runs to loss by 88 runs at the University Oval in Kyambogo. 
“We just can’t believe it,” disappointed Strikers’ opener Zephaniah Arinaitwe told Daily Monitor.

Arinaitwe was the best batsman on the day with half-ton of 86 runs off 63 balls. “We should have won. We did our best but at some point, we heavily paid for lack of game awareness,” he added. Tigers had set 247-8 after the allotted 50 overs thanks to Dinesh Nakrani’s 77 off 95 and Anup Kerai’s 42 off 51 in front of Richard Agamire (2/45) and Frank Akankwasa’s (2/33) bowling resistance. Even if Arinaitwe gave Strikers a fine start, Alphesh Hirani and company remained firm.
Only Perry Wazombe (25 off 30) and Simon Okecho (11 off 17) could afford double figures, Strikers crumbling fast under Nakrani’s controlled medium pacers as justified by his parsimonious figures of 7/26.

It implies Tigers took their tally to 18 points from six outings while Lions have 21 from the same number of matches. Elsewhere, Aziz Damani got it easy following their opponents’ Challengers’ frail batting in Lugogo, winning for the fifth time in as many outings by five wickets after meeting a target of 126 runs inside 24.2 overs with Saud Islam’s 59-ball 50.

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Ceylon Lions plot surprise for Damani

Aziz Damani Cricket Club is intent to defend their Jazz Safari National League title in style.
It is a priority that has been followed up by three opening wins of the season against Strikers, Kutchi Tigers and Premier.
The latter 262-run victory last weekend was spiced up by an 80-ball 102 ton by Saud Islam in Kyambogo.
“So far, so good,” Damani all-rounder Brian Masaba said. “It’s a good start. But we don’t want to leave any room for complacency. We want to do it better than we did it last year,” he said.

Now Damani heads to Lugogo Oval today to face a stubborn Ceylon Lions that has blown more cold than hot in their first three matches.
“We should be doing better,” their opening batsman Simon Ssesazi said. Last weekend, the left-hander made just 15 runs but those double figures marked an improvement considering he struggled with just single digits. “I feel better than when I was in Malaysia. Now facing Damani which has coach Steve Tikolo and seven other national teammates, I know a thing or two and try out for a big score.”

By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE

Aziz Damani dominate 2017 UCA Awards

PAST MEN’S LEAGUE WINNERS

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

KAMPALA. In 2016, Tornado Bee became the first club to win four straight championships in the Jazz Safari National Cricket League.

However, their run was ended by Aziz Damani who won the title last year on the first time of asking. Damani was officially crowned as the 2017 champions during the League Awards’ ceremony at Lugogo Oval on Sunday.

It only felt a dream come true for Damani Club CEO Siva Koti Reddy who started the team in 2015. “We are very happy,” he said after lifting the trophy with captain Ghulam Hunzai on a rather cold evening after their UCA Super Cup match with 2017 Division Two kings Premier.

On the same evening, Kutchi Tigers’ Raghvani Shantilal was crowned as Player of Series thanks to his best batsman figures of 554 runs in 13 innings. Each year, the trophy cabinet grown bigger for Damani. Koti’s interest grew in the game after their franchise won the 2015 Night Cricket Championship.

They won the 2016 Kishore Pabari Memorial T20 Cup, 2016 Division Two and the 2017 Super Cup, meaning their topflight success is no fluke. Also, the ladies’ side Aziz Damani-Masaka SS also lifted the Women’s Division Two championship.

But Damani now wants to erase Tornado Bee’s records. “Definitely, the target is to win the Championship for both men and women,” Siva stated after confirming three new signings.
“Tornado Bee won four in a row but we want to win the next four.”

If anything, the signings of budding wicket-keeper Fred Achelam and left-arm seamer Charles Waiswa as well as in-form spinner Henry Ssenyondo from Challengers imply the huge intent by the yellow brigade.

Achelam replaces Arnold Otwani who left for Charity Trust Fund, was the best wicket-keeper last season with 20 dismissals.

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Damani eye revenge in face of T20 cricket title

T20 winners
2016: Challengers
2015: Patidar Samaj
2014: Challengers
2013: Wanderers
2012: Tornado

Men’s T20 league
Semi-finals - Today at 10:30am
KICC vs. Kutchi Tigers, Lugogo
Aziz Damani vs. Challengers, Kyambogo
FINAL (3PM)
Winner 1 vs. Winner 2, Lugogo

KAMPALA. It is now only two matches that separate Challengers Cricket Club from a third National Twenty20 League title in a space of four years.
Should they beat the big stumbling block in Aziz Damani at the semi-final stage, another trophy could be within reach.

But there is a strange superstition in sport that it is difficult to lose twice to the same team in a particular competition.
On December 3, 2017, Challengers beat Damani by 16 runs in the group stages and their run has now gone to 10 straight victories.

One senses that one thing on the minds of Damani’s players when the two face off in what appears to be a ‘final before the final’ at Kyambogo this morning.
“We are going to revenge and possibly win the trophy,” Damani skipper Ghulam Hunzai told Sunday Monitor.

The 2014 and 2016 winners Challengers are only playing to cover up for a bizarre show in the longer format. “At the stage we are, we do not want to lose the momentum,” stated batsman Hamu Kayondo.

Damani is sharper with inclusions of Zimabwean Kai Roy and Indian Manoj Sai who made 60-ball 89* against 2012 finalists Charity in the quarterfinals.
But, Challengers’ opener Arthur Kyobe, recently dropped in the national team, could have a point to prove and as well close the 20-run gap between him and leading batsman Roger Mukasa (263 runs).

Meanwhile, no team in the second semi-final between KICC and Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo should be overlooked as Tigers’ imports Indian imports Jaydev Parmar, Rakesh Kahar, Vyas Nisarg and Saumil Patel pose a big threat.

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By Darren Allan Kyeyune

Damani peel away after Tigers roar

At every turn over the past four years, the Tornado Bee machinery conquered the Jazz Safari National League as much as they wished. 
For some, their four successive titles perhaps, do not even paint that picture of supremacy well. However, the men who don the green and orange jersey seem to be chocking terribly in pursuit of a fifth straight title. 
On Sunday, they were humbled for the second straight time, losing by 133 runs to Kutchi Tigers at the University Oval in Kyambogo.


And guess what? Tornado Bee’s loss left them 16 points off the pace, also dropping from second to fourth as Tigers and KICC, 66-run victors over Nile moved up. 
That’s after leaders Aziz Damani disciplined bottom side Patidar Samaj by 353 runs in Lugogo to move to 55 points from 10 matches thanks to centuries from Arnold Otwani (106 off 105) and Mohammed Wasim (102 off 55).
So is it the end of an era of dominance? “It’s never over until the fat lady sings,” Tornado Bee captain Jeremy Kibuukamusoke said after a briefing dressing room chat.


On the other hand, Gentex Enterprises and Keshwala Group-sponsored Tigers’ young and old were over the moon, celebrating a fourth straight win that took them second on 42 points.
“It is a very important win,” Tigers’ captain Alphesh Hirani said after the side got their first win over Tornado Bee in six limited-overs’ contests.


Tigers majorly relied on an Indian quartet Ronak Patel, Dinesh Kumar Nakrani, Aezaz Kothariya and Suresh Padiyadhi, who is here for the Rainbow Night Cricket Cup, to scratch Tornado Bee. 
Kothariya was pivotal in the opening stand of 80 with Nanji Pindoriya (43 off 63) and later took the total to 125-2, finishing on 56 off 58 balls after 25.3 overs.


Shantital Raghvani got 51 off 55 while star man Ronak made 69 off 62, Nakrani had 16 off 18 Dhansukh Jesani (24 off 13) and Bharat Ghodadra (22 off 15) still left Tornado Bee’s best bowler Abdallah Lubega (4/64) wounded. 
Pindoriya (3/24) was superb, destroying Tornado Bee’s middle order but Ronak’s stand-out two catches, one of top-scorer Akbar Baig (30 got 53) told the story even if when Deus Muhumuza (49 off 78) seemed to alter the script.

JAZZ SAFARI NATIONAL LEAGUE
WEEKEND RESULTS: DIVISION ONE
Aziz Damani 392/6 [416] Patidar 63/10 
(Aziz Damani won by 353 runs via D/L)
Kutchi Tigers 297/9 Tornado Bee 164/10 
(Kutchi Tigers won by 133 runs)
KICC 241/8 [240] Nile 175/10 
(KICC won by 66 runs via D/L)
DIVISION TWO
Strikers 332/9 Jinja SS 141/10
(Strikers won by 191 runs)
SKLPS 115/10 Tornado 50/9 
(Tornado won by 65 runs)
JACC 59/10 Mwiri 61/4 
(JACC won by 6 wickets)

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