Tornado B were the pundits’ pick to take home this year’s National Twenty20 League title not until they suffered a shock six-run quarterfinal defeat to eventual runners-up Kampala Institute of Cricket Clubs (KICC).
Although Tornado B strolled to last year’s Division One 50-Over League title unscathed, this year’s edition will be no walk in the park for them.
They were the less active of the eight sides in the topflight bringing in only national skipper Davis Karashani although they still boast of the country’s crème de la crème.
Having won the lower tier in 2012 and continued their fairytale to win the topflight in 2013, Tornado B’s title credentials will, though, will be put under the microscope by mainly newly-promoted Challengers. Below is SCORE’s season preview.
Captain: Jeremy Kibuukamusoke
Key players: Davis Karashani, Roger Mukasa and John Mpande
Last year’s finish: 1st
Three inclusions in left-arm pace man Charles Waiswa, wicket-keeper Lawrence Ssematimba and his young sibling Roger Mukasa from Patidar gave Tornado B the edge as they cantered to the title. Their roster has been boosted by surprise inclusion national skipper Davis Karashani. At No.6, Karashani guarantees a rare quick knock and quality off-spin spells with the ball. MVP Nicholas Kebba must be complemented by the always promising talent of Cyrus Kibuukamusoke and Akbar Baig.
Captain: Frank Nsubuga
Key players: Deus Muhumuza, Richard Okia and Ivan Taremwa
Last year’s finish: 2nd
Having lost three opening batsmen in Arthur Kyobe, Abu Seguya and Alpha Adowa, efforts from the likes of Davis Turinawe (appointed national team coach) must come more consistently now if Tornado is to secure a second title in three years.
All rounders Deus Muhumuza, Richard Okia and veteran Benjamin Musoke must also come to the fore to avoid exposing the fragile lower order.
Captain: Hamu Kayondo
Key players: Mohammed Raheel, Daniel Batuwa and David Mwesigwa
Last year’s finish: 5th
Without a typical 50-over specialist batsman like Hamza Saleh, new captain Hamu Kayondo, who replaces gloves-man Dennis Musali, will have to carry a lot on his shoulders if the 2012 runners-up are to better last year’s finish. Off spinner Raheel will be their trump card with the ball.
CHARITY TRUST FUND
Captain: Jonathan Ssebanja
Key players: Simon Ssesaazi, Alpha Adowa and Jackson Ogwang
Last year’s finish: 3rd
Did this youthful side have a bit of complacency after making a six-game winning streak in the T20s’? Captain Ssebanja looked helpless as they were ejected by ultimate winners Challengers. Winning this competition is tougher for his young guns but with their raw zeal to win, Ssebanja ought to act by example. Alongside Henry Ssenyondo, he must play responsibly and hope that his form can rub off his enthusiastic troops.
Captain: Varinder Singh
Key players: Narinder Singh, Ivan Baidhu and Michael Kintu
Last year’s finish: 4th
They lost inspirational captain Amos Kyazze and in young Varinder Singh, they will be hoping for a better dawn. Kintu siblings (Michael and Aggrey) together with the Singh brothers (Varinder and Narinder) will have to churn out the bulk of the runs and wickets for this Jinja-based franchise.
Captain: David Musoke
Key players: Brian Masaba, Phillip Arinaitwe and Martin Ondeko
Last year’s finish: 6th
One good thing that Nile have done over the past two years is keep their best player in national seamer Brian Masaba.
With the way they’ve struggled to pick up results especially against the big sides, Masaba would have already moved to a stronger camp. But Nile has failed to add extra ingredients to their meal and it is likely to taste the same or even more harder to digest.
In comparison with other struggling sides, Nile might be engaged in a continuous relegation fight as the season reaches its business end unless Martin Ondeko, captain David Musoke and coach-player Michael Ndiko’s willows catch fire. The young guns Dhaval Patel (19) and Vishnu Manepali (15) must also show they have come of age.
Captain: Syed Thaha
Key players: Ivan Thawithemwira, Mohammed Akmal and Arthur Kyobe
Last year’s finish: Promoted after winning Division II
Not many though that Thaha would lead Challengers to this year’s T20 title, their maiden trophy since the club’s inception back in 2010.
Their new recruits in Kyobe, Thawithemwira and Arnold Otwani helped end the jinx alongside a capable supporting cast from Xavier Asha and Mohammed Aneef and Alema Abraham. The usual suspects will have to make it count as they seek a season double.
Captain: Kenneth Waiswa
Key players: William Byawaka, Aloysius Odoi and Yusuf Nanga
Last year’s finish: Promoted after finishing 2nd in Div.II
Huge credit should be given to coach Habibu Mugalula for turning around Jinja SS’ fortunes from just a bunch of promising cricketers to a competitive unit in both genders over the past four years.
But the congratulatory messages must stop for now as his student-oriented side faces has a steep mountain to climb if they are to stay in the topflight. The talent in their ranks is undeniable but the big question remains “Do they have willpower to out-muscle the mainstays?” Your guess is as good as mine.
Captain: Hanumant Katkar
Key players: Suleman Sharif, Hamza Saleh and Daniel Ruyange
Last year’s finish: Won the Plate Cup in Div. II
Prediction: Promotion to top-flight
Each of the 12 new signings KICC got on board gives them an edge over their fellow lower-tier sides. The late inclusion of national team top order batsman Hamza Saleh, who did not play in the season-opening Twenty20 showpiece, makes them more than powerful.
Their skipper Katkar is still hurting after the rain cut short their T20 final against Challengers two weeks ago and will be intent on getting the job done hence more clinically this time round by urging his top guns to seal promotion to the top tier next season.
2013: Tornado B
OPENING FIXTURES - TOMORROW
Tornado vs. Tornado B
Wanderers vs. Challengers
Nile vs. Charity Trust Fund
Warriors vs. KICCC
Mwiri vs. JACC