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

Olila High School breaks season duck with Sixes Challenge triumph

Olila High School overcame a series of heartbreaks to win the last silverware - the Afri Power Engineering Women’s Sixes Challenge on Saturday.
Lugogo Cricket Oval was busy thoughout the day as eight sides battled for the final trophy on offer of the season. 
Now Olila High School came here nursing wounds after losing the Jazz Safari National Women’s League last weekend. 
It was the same script a few months ago when Damani as well beat Olila to win the Mehta Twenty20 League final.
On Saturday under terrible light, Olila finally quenched their thirst after beating KICC in a bowl-to-stumps final at thick dusk.
With the clock reading 6:53pm, the sun was completely in bed, lights around Lugogo on and match referee Patrick Makumbi advised a final of that caliber rather than a Super Over final.
To save time earlier, semifinals where KICC and Olila beat Damani A and B by six wickets and 31 runs respectively had been three-over contests. 
In the final, it is 16-year-old Proscovia Alako who bowled to the stumps on the fifth and final ball for Olila to win in an odd final. 
“Its a great feeling knowing how close we came to winning the two titles,” Olila’s manager Felix Musana stated. 
“The girls have been outstanding and its nice for them to win a trophy for their efforts during the year.”
But the manner of the final left some pondering. “Given the time left it was not possible to have both innings and the rules had that option in deciding a winner,” Musana added.
“May be the Super Over could have done but well,” a KICC player offered. 
This was the first Sixes tournament for ladies since 2016. Interestingly, that year’s final was pushed due to bad light.

By Darren Allan Kyeyune

Season Five Night Cricket has more prize money, new twists

Brace yourselves, members of the cricket fraternity! The pick of the tournaments and only Night Cricket event – The Kampala Boys Sports Cricket Club (KBSC) Premier League – Season 5 is here. 
The annual reloaded showpiece was officially launched on Thursday night at the Cooper Chimney Restaurant in Lugogo infront of a full house of the 16 teams participating teams, officials, organisers and members of the media. The previous seasons have showed that there is no lightweight in this tape-ball cricket format that will be played over 16 overs (preliminary phase) and 20 overs (knockouts) from next Friday (July 28) to September 4 at the home of cricket in Uganda – Lugogo Oval.

Despite the envisaged stiff competition, the franchises will not need any additional motivation to outlast defending champions Pak Stallions after the organisers announced that the stakes were higher this year with the winning team taking home Shs15m and runners up pocketing Shs8m – an increment from Shs10m and 7.5m respectively last season.

“We set the standard pretty high from the previous editions. We want to take it a notch higher this season. We want to keep everyone excited and involved,” said KBSC chairman Tejas, who also disclosed that there would be a tournament within the competition with the teams that don’t make it to the semifinals competing in a Super Over contest.
UCA’s Martin Ondeko lauded KBSC for being consistent in their endeavour to promote cricket and promised that the association would continue to support such projects.

GROUPS FOR SEASON 5
Group A 
1. Pak Stallions, 2. Cosmas Warriors, 3. Jain Samaj , 4.Haandi XI, 5. Jiya XI, 6.Yuva XI, 7. Abacus, 8. Lahore Lions. 
Group B
1. Afridi XI, 2. Hunza Warriors, 3. Metro Tyres, 4. Keshwala XI, 5. Keshwala Boys, 6. Azam XI, 7. Aziz Damani, 8. Lohana XI.

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Challengers seeks fine start in belated season

The final decision on the status of Tornado club had an implication on both ends of the 2016 National Men’s Division One 50-Over League log.

That they suffered the knife for the first time in one of the fraternity’s bold decisions passed by new Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) chairman Bashir ‘Badu’ Ansasira, Challengers, too, lost the title to Tornado Bee last month.

“After playing all a thrilling brand of cricket, it was painful to lose the title,” Challengers’ batsman Arthur Kyobe told Sunday Monitor in a recent interview.

Challengers would have celebrated a maiden title after earning promotion in 2013.

However, that ‘set-back’ is one they want to leave in their past which is some 231 days later from last season’s turbulent final day - July 17, 2016.

Fresh chapter
Vaheed Mohammed’s club now wants to start a fresh chapter on a high when the new season bowls off with an interesting match against Nile at Lugogo Oval this morning.

“We want to take one game at a time,” left-hander Kyobe said. “Obviously, the big target is to claim the championship at the end of the day.”

The 2016 Twenty20 winners Challengers have added Irfan Afridi (from KICC), Kamal Shahzad (Aziz Damani) and David Wabwire (Tornado) to bolster their batting and bowling attacks.

However, 1995 winners Nile, who survived relegation at the expense of Tornado, want a better season.

“We had a good team last year but didn’t perform well generally,” Nile skipper David Musoke told this paper.

“Nile is ready to compete for a top slot,” he added while promising to unveil a surprise package.

Meanwhile, record top-flight champions Tornado start life in the lower tier against Challengers’ feeder side Strikers at the lakeside oval in Entebbe.
Strikers welcome trio Derrick Bakunzi, Sohaib Ehsan and Fahad Sadiq all from Challengers.

NATIONAL MEN’S 50-OVER LEAGUE 
TODAY’S FIXTURES - 10:30AM
DIVISION ONE
Challengers vs. Nile, Lugogo
DIVISION TWO 
Tornado vs. Strikers, Kyambogo

By Darren Allan Kyeyune

 

Kyobe knock wraps up Challengers’ season in style

For the past five months, Challengers’ opening batsman Arthur Kyobe has been struggling to get runs on board in the National Men’s Division One 50-Over League.
At worst, the bragging left-hander became a laughing stock among some of his peers and fraternity. But somehow, he’s steadily recovered and show marks of what to expect from an opening Cricket Cranes batsman. 
On Sunday, Kyobe struck a decisive unbeaten half-ton of 75 runs as his side wrapped up the season with a five-wicket win over Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo Oval.

“Well, glory be to God,” a relieved Kyobe told Daily Monitor after his second half-century of the season. 
The 29-year-old’s first - a 91-ball 86, had come against the same opposition during Match Day 2 of the season on January 31. “It is only God and coach Steve Tikolo who have helped me recover,”
“Simply, I kept the ball down, took on advice he has offered me in the national team training sessions and results are impressive.” added the man who finished the season with 293 runs from 13 innings.
The win kept Challengers atop the eight-team log on 70 points after 14 matches, but can only win the league title if second-placed Tornado (61 points) fail to win their remaining two matches.

After Kutchi Tigers’ captain Alphesh Hirani opted to bat first, Nanji Pindoriya (34 off 38) and Bharat Ghorasia (22 off 36) combined well for an opening 72-run partnership. 
This crumbled at the hands of Derrick Bakunzi (3/12), Fahad Sadiq (2/41) and Henry Senyondo (2/13). Nandi Kishor (32 off 59) and Kanti Vekariya (30 off 59) then pushed Tigers to set 178 after 44.4 overs. 
Requiring to score about four runs per over, Kyobe smashed nine boundaries off 66 balls and, had a decisive 124-run second-wicket partnership with blazing Hamu Kayondo (63 off 52). 
The 2014 National Twenty20 Champions were home in 25.1 overs.

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Africa Cricket Club working to keep machine well-oiled for topflight return next season

The genesis of cricket in Uganda was centred around the European and Asian communities that often gathered to play for fun and leisure in the early 1900s.

It was not until the early 1950s that some locals got fully engaged in the gentleman’s sport under Africa Cricket Club (ACC). Today, ACC is the oldest club.

On the flip side, ACC has been stuck in the National Men’s 50-Over Division Two League tier since relegation in 2011. “We were not playing responsibly at the time,” ACC senior player Sylvester Rokani recalls how demotion engulfed them.

For five straight years, ACC has jumped high but failed to get hold of the promotion key. Why? 
“Our belief is growing players and enjoying game but often, our upcoming talent has been snatched by big money teams as soon as they peak,” explained Rokani.

On Sunday, ACC continued their perfect start to the season making it two wins in as many matches with a 21-run victory over Premier at Budo Oval. That was preceded by the opening 24-run win over Mwiri at Entebbe on February 7. Clearly, there is something that has changed about the 2006 and 2007 top-flight champions.

“The team spirit and morale is excellent,” Rokani noted. “We secured a few sponsorships, signed some really important players which adds oomph.”

Unlike before, ACC has now got a kit sponsor in Case Medical Centre, whose proprietor Dr. Kato Sebbaale doubles as the club chairman. The club also generates funds from club members, who contribute annual subscription fees of Shs300,000 each.

The club has also successfully serenaded Kintu brothers Michael and Aggrey as well as Timothy Erumuka from Jinja-based Rounders and young guns like Gaddafi Jjunju from partner school King’s College Budo.

Michael’s knock of 25 off 35 and Emmanuel Odeng’s half-ton of 55 runs off 83 helped ACC set 194 in 49.2 overs. 
Then left-arm Timothy Erumuka single-handedly blew away Premier’s with figures of 7 for 39. Pace bowlers could be the thing for ACC this season since Odeng was also crucial with a fine spell of 6 for 23 in the win over Mwiri. With such developments in place, many will expect ACC returns to the big time next year.

ABOUT ACC: Started: 1950 Captain: Richard Lwamafa Twitter Handle: @AfricaACC

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UCA offer clubs equipment ahead of season start

One reason why many youngsters ditch cricket for other disciplines is the inability to access the necessary equipment for the gentleman’s game.

Helmets, gloves, balls, bats and bails are costly and maintenance season after season is hard because they wear out easily.
To temporarily solve the problem, Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) have always been a key figure in this.

On Friday at Lugogo, UCA CEO Justine Ligyalingi handed over different equipment to the 20 clubs that will take part in the National Men’s 50-Over League which bowls off Sunday. 
That’s thanks to UCA’s partners boost from Bankstown Cricket Club in Australia.

Each club received four pairs of batting pads, two helmets, three thigh guards, four abdominal guards, four pairs of batting gloves, a pair of keeping pads and gloves. At the event, Ligyalingi announced the launch of the new Division Three tier that will include five teams and will be playing on Saturdays. With Tornado B included, Division One comprises eight teams whose winner is guaranteed Shs5m.

Division Two with seven teams that will battle for the top two slots promotion worth Shs3m in total.

2016 NATIONAL MEN’S LEAGUE
PRIZE MONEY
Winner Div.I: Shs5m
Runner-Up Div.I: Shs2m
Winner Div.2: Shs2m
Runner-Up Div.2: Shs1m
Winner Div.3: Shs1m


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