Doha- Debutants Saud Islam and Frank Akankwasa shined on their bow to senior international cricket but the new-look Ugandan side still failed to defy jet-lag as they went down to Qatar by 36 runs in the opening tie of five-match Bilateral Series at the Asian Town International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Islam, a batting powerhouse for reigning Uganda National 50-over Cricket League champions Aziz Damani, scripted a fairytale start to the international fold with a century - arguably the first by a debutant in Uganda’s history - hitting seven boundaries and three sixes in his 116-ball 100.
Despite the team having landed at 2am yesterday morning, Islam showed lots of desire to give Uganda a solid start - first by leading from the front in a 125-run opening combo with Roger Mukasa (49 off 76) before the latter run himself out. And by the time Islam departed in the 43rd over, Uganda were gliding along nicely at 205 for 2.
Vice captain Arnold Otwani crafted an unbeaten 80-ball 50 and former U-19 skipper Akankwasa, too, chipped in with some late lusty hitting with a 19-ball 26 as Uganda set 265 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in the allotted 50 overs.
But it wasn’t to be Uganda’s day.
Playing the better half of the second innings under floodlights on a very breezy day, the Ugandans succumbed to chilly conditions, too, against a side that also efficiently made use of home advantage.
Fielding was tough and more especially for the bowlers to get a good grip of ball.
Charles Waiswa (2/46) and Richard Agamire (1/74) made some timely inroads despite knocks from Imal Liyanage (65) and Imran Ashraf (41).
At 235 for 6 after 47 overs with 31 runs required off the last three overs (18 balls), Uganda was still in contention for victory.
But Man of Match Mirza Baig (63* off 48 & 1/24 in 6) targeted rookie paceman Agamire tonking him three massive sixes and a boundary in the 48th over that dearly cost 23 runs and forthwith pushed Uganda out of the game.
By then eight were needed off last two overs and the game was over as a contest. “The results didn’t show how much effort you guys put in,” said interim coach Davis Turinawe.
“You guys did well and hard luck to the young Shone (Agamire). What happened to him can happen to any bowler on any day. Hope he learns something from it and bounces back stronger.”
Team Uganda have no time to neither mourn nor console themselves with the Twenty20 International Series (T20I) starting in earnest at 6pm today.
The series have International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking points and Uganda will be looking to improve on its 35th placing in the world over the three-legged affair.
TOUR OF QATAR
Yesterday’s result - 50 overs
Uganda 265/ Qatar 267/8
Qatar won by 2 wickets
Today - T201
Qatar vs. Uganda, 6pm
Asian Town Int’l Stadium