Arinaitwe ton ensures Uganda ends on high

 There was no wooden spoon for the Baby Cricket Cranes and more importantly no relegation to the Africa Division II as Uganda wrapped up its bittersweet campaign at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Under 19 Africa World Cup Qualifier in Windhoek, Namibia on Sunday.

The last three countries on the log; fiery West Africans Sierra Leone, neighbouring arch-foes Kenya, who were at the last World Cup in 2018 New Zealand and bottom finishers Tanzania will have to go through the ignominy of playing Division II qualifiers next year to earn the right to play at this level again, in 2021.

But that consolation didn’t suffice to the many fans that were pregnant with expectation that this particular generation of U-19s would halt the wait to appear in another World Cup since the 2006 crop that played in the Sri Lanka edition.

It was a little too late for Uganda, even after Uganda mauled Tanzania by 8 wickets with a 226 balls remaining in the last round of this tense, thrilling and action-packed showpiece.

Uganda’s top order batsmen struggled for rhythm early on in the tournament and even when they got starts, they were guilty of not converting.

The only time it happened against Tanzania, coach Jackson Ogwang’s boys steamrolled their opponents Tanzania; making a mockery of their set score of 144 runs by chasing it down in just 12.2 overs.

Zephaniah Arinaitwe, who was the only player with a senior national team cap, oscillated between mediocrity and flashes of brilliance. 
A free-scoring stroke maker Arinaitwe primarily held Uganda’s key to progress because of his prior exposure.
When he muscled a 30-ball 69 against Namibia, Uganda were in dreamland but his dismissal at 74 runs in 7.2 overs signaled the end of Uganda’s hunt for the hosts set score of 250.

Remarkable debuts
Against Tanzania in what the Ugandan contingent in Windhoek termed as their ‘grande finale’, Arinaitwe showed his well-documented destructive nature with a 40-ball 102 that was littered with six boundaries and nine beautiful sixes - an innings of super timing.
Uganda’s bowling which will hardly take too much blame on this particular trip; had earlier on held fort. Opening bowler Juma Miyaji returned stellar figures of 3 for 21 in 9.3 overs and captain Frank Akankwasa’s 10-over spell of spin prized out three scalps for a measly 33 runs.

More positives
There were more positives for the Baby Cricket Cranes as Tanzania’s batsmen; Ashish Shah (40 off 91) and Aahil Jasani (28 off 56) opted to build a wall of attrition with tournament debutants; Pascal Murungi (aged 14) and Edwin Nuwagaba (aged 15), who is Arinaitwe’s younger brother, respectively snared two wickets and bowled a maiden first over in international cricket with the opponents’ innings ending in 48.3 overs.
Such was Uganda’s final flourish but it was a little too late as it will be Nigeria going to first-ever U-19 World Cup.

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Arinaitwe, Akankwasa relish learning chance at ICC High Performance Camp

At the turn of November, Uganda’s cricket walked on egg shells after the nation was stabbed in cold blood, breathing to last place at the ICC World Cricket League Division Three in Oman.

With the changing ICC Associate nations’ cycle in line with the ODI World Cup, the Cricket Cranes set-up as well ought to revolve from the long-serving old guards to the new guns. To match that, Uganda Cricket Association CEO Martin Ondeko last month received an invitation for U-19 pair of Zephaniah Arinaitwe and Frank Akankwasa to feature at the ICC High Performance camp in Potchestroom, North West, South Africa from January 14 - February 20.
Having beaten the visa hitches to the Rainbow Nation, Arinaitwe and Akankwasa depart tonight for the priceless experience with other selected talents from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Mozambique and Botswana for the month’s camp.

“They have been rewarded for performing consistently over the last 18 months and we would like to further develop them,” read part of the letter by ICC Africa’s Kuben Pillay.
Primed to be the country’s batting lynch-pin, Arinaitwe was thrilled by the selection. “I earned this call through my hard work. I did my job. scoring runs over the last months,” said a smiling Arinaitwe prior to departure. “I plan to learn a lot of things and I want to prove to them that I can do what I have learnt. I target to score as many tons, if there are matches to play,” added the 17-year-old.

He is in familiar company of Akankwasa. “I hope to learn many things especially my confidence and polish my skills especially batting,” stated the all-rounder. 
Akankwasa is captain of the Baby Cricket Cranes who have already started preparing for ICC U-19 Africa World Cup Qualifiers scheduled for March this year in Nambia.

AFRICA ACADEMY 2019
Uganda Players: 
Frank Akankwasa, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, 
Participating Countries: 
Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, 
Mozambique, Botswana and Uganda.

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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

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