- Published in National League
The Lady Cricket Cranes side to Kigali has no less than seven players from the highly-rated Soroti Cricket Academy stable.
Coach Michael Grace Ndiko and Ivan Kakande's Lady Cricket Cranes side will be looking to win only their third Kwibuka title. The tournament was initiated by the Rwanda Cricket Association in 2014.
After two months of action, the Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup is left with just three matches to climax.
Who will win it? That’s the question that three-peat chasing Challengers, two-time finalists KICC, no-nonsense Aziz Damani and fiery Ceylon Lions must answer when the quartet negotiates each other’s hurdle today.
The semifinal line-up is structured in a way that seasoned T20 contenders KICC and Lions want to wrestle serial Cup winners Challengers and Aziz Damani respectively.
Defending champions Challengers are looking no further than a third successive title and a record fourth T20 gong in five years.
To test their mettle first is KICC this morning whom they meet at Lugogo in a repeat of the 2014 final.
“Our batsmen are on form,” KICC skipper Hanumant Katkar chest-thumped after they defeated Strikers in the quarterfinals last weekend.
Wassim Butt and Suleman Sharif have held their bats high while spinning trio of Davis Karashani, Frank Nsubuga and Irfan Afridi is capable wreaking havoc like the latter did with figures of 7 for 15 seven days ago. “How we play on the day is what matters most,” Katkar offered.
But Challengers will be a tougher nut to crack for KICC having added Zimbabwean imports Timycen Maruma and Shingirai Masakadza to their arsenal.
Arthur Kyobe, Hamu Kayondo and Kamal Shahzad know what to do when on the crease irrespective of the amount of incentives that Challengers’ proprietor Vaheed Mohammed has in stock for them.“We want three in a row but we want our cricket to speak first,” said Kyobe, leaving his opinion door so ajar during the interview. But they can only earn Vaheed’s prize if they beat KICC and then win the final in Kyambogo against the victor between Damani and Lions.
Now this is a repeat of the November 24 group stage encounter where 2012 runners-up Lions beat Siva Koti’s Damani by 11 runs. But things have drastically changed since Damani’s returned from international duty in Oman.
Similarly, Lions’ boss Ruwan Jayaratne has not been shy, adding Sri Lankan top youngster batsman Malindu Maduraga and Kenyan Alex Obanda to his ranks.
Obanda made a 38-ball 102 ton while Maduranga struck 42 off 24 as they beat Jinja SS last Sunday and the boss seemed satisfied.
“We are bringing two more Kenyans and definitely going for the trophy,” Jayaratne, also the team’s opener, stated.
But Damani has won every trophy on offer bar this one. And this being a fourth semifinal in as many years, they want to go big. “We just have a few things to get better from the Tornado Bee (quarterfinal) game and we’ll be on track,” Damani’s all-rounder Riazat Ali Shah stated.
Mir Afzal and Saud Islam have furnished the batting of Damani’s immovable wall way much this season.
In the end, fireworks in Lugogo and a classic in Kyambogo, lights out! The climax is certainly a must watch.
Having endured a torrid outing at the ICC World Cricket League Division IV event in Malaysia, Simon Ssesaazi reminded everyone of his batting potential last weekend.
He was ruthless against fellow Cricket Cranes’ players Riazat Ali and brother Henry Ssenyondo enroute to a 77-run-a-ball half-ton but it was not enough as his club Ceylon Lions lost to holders Aziz Damani by 95 runs in Lugogo. That third loss in four Jazz Safari National League matches could be vividly seen in Ssesaazi’s eyes after producing the best batting show on the day.
“We need to act,” the left-hand opener lamented ahead of today’s match against Kutchi Tigers at the same venue.
“We need to just work on a few improvements, avoid giving away cheap wickets then build partnerships,” he said of his fellow top-order batsmen Eddie Agaba, Arnold Otwan, Varinder Singh, Lawrence Ssempijja and Jonathan Ssebanja.
But Tigers lost their last tie to KICC after an unmatchable display by Davis Karashani (74 off 70 and 3/31 in 8.1 overs) a fortnight ago in Lugogo.
So as Lions bid to roar, Tigers will equally want to be counted in the Lugogo jungle with the backing of Indian trio of Aezaz Kothariya, Devendra Poriya and Sachin Mevada.
Arup Kerai is another weapon for Alphesh Hirani’s team that will looking for a fourth win in six outings.
By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE