- Published in General News
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.
“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.
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.
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
From the highs of bossing the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Africa ‘B’ Qualifier held at Gahanga Stadium, Rwanda in July, the Cricket Cranes have been given a reality check here in South Africa.
Uganda lost only twice in six games at the four-nation showpiece in Kigali enroute to qualifying for the ICC World T20 Africa Qualifier next year then. Fast forward to Pietermaritzburg, Steve Tikolo’s boys had already lost twice from as many games after Day One of the expanded Africa T20 Cup, organised by Cricket South Africa (CSA).
In the 20-run loss to Kwazulu Natal Coastal, the Ugandans were guilty of throwing away momentum while chasing a manageable 163.
From 87 for 3 after 10 overs, Uganda collapsed to 117 for 6 in 16 overs thus managing 30 runs in 6 overs to ‘allow’ the hosts to bounce back into the match and forthwith win it.
In the afternoon game, Uganda suffered a huge 133-run loss to defending champions Kwazulu Natal Inland at the Pietermaritzburg Varsity Oval in what was a listless and insipid show.
Teenager Zephaniah Arinaitwe (35 off 20), on his competitive debut, was one of positive talking points for Uganda as he exhibited flashes of brilliance in an opening partnership with captain Roger Mukasa (24 off 21) of 72 runs in 7 overs.
Uganda will look to end on a high against legendary South African Paul Adams’ Western Province at The Oval in Pietermaritzburg.
KZN Coastal 163/5 Uganda 143/8
Uganda lost by 20 runs
KZN Inland 227/2 Uganda 94/10
Uganda lost by 133 runs
By Innocent Ndawula
For a cricketer, a century is a big milestone for a batsman as is a hat-trick or maiden career wicket for a bowler. At Soroti Light Secondary School, Eunice Alungat is on cloud nine after her first ton.
The teenager now regrets less about giving cricket time after she made 114 runs not out as her side Soroti Challengers bossed opponents JACC enroute a 259-run victory at Jinja Oval on Saturday.
“I felt good,” the 17-year-old said. “…because it had never happened in life to me as a batter,” the right-hander offered.
Alungat only began playing cricket in Senior Two (2015). And that’s the last time a century happened in women’s cricket.
There will be little wonder if Alungat pursues a cricket career after she has completed her Geography, Economics and Art studies next year. “My dream is to play for Uganda’s national team as I am inspired by Joyce Mary Apio and Naome Kayondo,” she says. Kayondo is one of the nine other lady cricketers to ever score a ton in Uganda’s history.
Now opener Alungat will feel she is on the right track after she made 14 boundaries in her knock off 110 balls in 40 overs. “I was patient,” she said. Alungat is the only non-national team player to score a ton, much to her coach Ivan Kakande’s delight.
“She is one of the talented girls in the set-up and a good listener who enjoys the game,” Kakande said of the gem.
ALUNGAT AT A GLANCE
Full name: Eunice Alungat
Date of birth: December 18, 2000
School: Soroti Light SS
Club: Soroti Challengers
Class: Senior 5
Started playing: 2015
Batting style: Right-hand
Bowling: Right-arm slow
Best batting figures: 114 runs not out
By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE
It takes a great level of keenness to notice sweet emotions flying all over the senior national men’s cricket team camp.
And they are all coming at a time after fixtures for the ICC World Cricket League Division Three due November 6-21 in Oman were released on August 22. That very day was Cricket Cranes’ captain Roger Mukasa’s 29th birthday.
On the next day, coach Steve Tikolo celebrated his 21st marriage anniversary in an emotional post on his Facebook account. So howzat!
One underlining factor is that there is no fear or pressure ahead of this crucial showpiece for Team Uganda. The vibes in the non-residential camp are getting better ever since they won the ICC WCL Division IV title in Malaysia back in May.
“After Malaysia, we have added a few players like Ronak (Patel) and Dinesh (Nakrani) and we have continued with our normal progress,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor yesterday.
“Division III is important for us to progress to Division II and it is coming in six months which is not bad in terms of team momentum.”
But the Kenyan legend further warns; “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, we still need to do the basics right and we cannot be complacent.”
Like the rest of the team, Tikolo is sparing more time to think on how to tackle the humid conditions of Oman and pass the five-match puzzle at the six-nation tournament.
“The Oman conditions are no different from those of Malaysia and that is in the sense of the same sub-continent type of wickets. We did not see too many in Malaysia but Uganda is one of the few teams that averaged 200 runs.
From what we saw in the ICC World T20 Africa B Qualifier in Rwanda, Ronak and Dinesh have brought in some good morale but batting is an area that we need to work on and as well as tighten the death bowling.”
Speaking of bowling and spin-favouring wickets in the Arabian Peninsula, Tikolo interestingly has more medium pace bowlers (Charles Waiswa, Bilal Hassun, Riazat Ali, Deus Muhumuza, Jonathan Ssebanja and Nakrani) than spinners (Irfan Afridi, Henry Ssenyondo, Frank Nsubuga plus part-timers Brian Masaba and Mukasa) in the team. But he sees things differently.
“Let’s not look at one side of the pace bowlers’ game. Don’t forget that Dinesh, Deus and Riazat can get you runs,” Tikolo argued.
“As a technical bench, we will not assume anything. We shall do our ground work and hopefully be in Oman at least three days before the tournament.”
Paying back the faith
On Tuesday, Tikolo repaid the faith in teenage batsman Zephaniah Arinaitwe who has been scoring centuries for fun over the past three months.
He is into the team selected by the UCA Selection Committee that will represent Uganda at the Cricket South Africa (CSA) hosted Africa T20 Tournament due September 14-16 before taking part in three 50-over warm-up matches against Kwazulu-Natal Inland and the South Africa Academy teams set for September 17-21. But Ronak is unavailable, Jonathan Ssebanja has again been overlooked whereas Ssenyondo joins his little brother Simon Ssesaazi in the reserves of the notable selections and omissions made to the Rainbow Nation.
Then after the buffer month of October, Uganda will start its quest for Division II cricket against Denmark and USA on November 9 and 10 in Muscat but the gaffer hasn’t put much focus onto the itinerary that has three reserve days and as many off-days.
“At the end of the day, the rest days will be a benefit for all teams unlike the previous WCL tournaments where there are back-to-back games which take a toll on the players,” concluded Tikolo.
TEAM TO SOUTH AFRICA FOR T20s
Players: Brian Masaba (vice captain), Fred Achelam (wicket-keeper), Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Roger Mukasa (captain), Hamu Kayondo, Dinesh Nakrani, Muhammad Irfan, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Kenneth Waiswa, Deusdedit Muhumuza, Bilal Hassun, Riazat Ali Shah
Reserves: Henry Ssenyondo, Simon Ssessazi, Emmanuel Issaneez
Officials: Jackson Kavuma (Manager), Steve Tikolo (Coach), Jackson Ogwang (Assistant Coach)
POOLS - AFRICA T20 CUP
Pool A - Pietermaritzburg:
KwaZulu-Natal Inland, Easterns,
KwaZulu-Natal Coastal, Uganda and
Pool B – Oudtshoorn:
South Western Districts, Free State,
Gauteng, Northerns and Zimbabwe;
Pool C – East London:
Border, Eastern Province, Kenya,
Mpumalanga and Namibia
Pool D – Paarl:
Boland, Limpopo, Nigeria, Northern Cape
and North West.
By Innocent Ndawula & Darren Kyeyune