It’s not often that Uganda beat fierce close door neighbours Kenya, let alone in a run chase. And yet that is exactly what the Cricket Cranes did in a nail-biting stiff chase by three wickets at the lush-green Oman Cricket Academy Turf in Al Amerat yesterday.
The win at the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B ended untold years of hurt of Uganda waiting to beat Kenya in a competitive ICC 50-over format event. Kenya set 253 for the loss of 6 wickets in the allotted 50 overs on a placid wicket and there were several some heart-stopping moments in the second innings as Uganda stuttered at 22 for 2 in 6.2 overs.
But leftie Shahzad Kamal was once again dropped an anchor with a classy 84-ball 60 in a tandem third-wicket combo of 127 runs with Man of Match Ronak Patel (86 off 106).
Kenya’s trio of returning Nehemiah Odhiambo (3/53 in 8.2 overs), Jadavji Bhimji Malindi (1/49 in 10) and 46-year-old Lameck Onyango (1/22 in 10) applied the brakes to Uganda’s flow at timely intervals with priceless wickets.
In that period Uganda fell from 182 for 4 to 220 for 7 but skipper Brian Masaba (22*) and veteran Frank Nsubuga (12*) stood firm for an unbeaten match-winning stand of 34 off just 25 balls to steer Uganda to victory with four balls remaining.
“I have been struggling with form and I thank my teammates for backing me up. This victory is sweet not because I contributed to it but because we haven’t beaten Kenya in a long while. Today will be memorable,” said Ronak soon after receive his gong.
And many a time such a triumph of vengeance over an eternal rival calls for some champagne-popping moments even if it’s a friendly.
But a quick glance around Uganda’s dug out, there were no exaggerated high fives. Just mere congratulatory handshakes and pats on the back among the team’s support staff and players.
“After this (Kenya) win, it is important we keep our feet grounded. We have to come back again here tomorrow (today) against Bermuda, look to do it all over again and bag another win. We need to keep the momentum going forward,” said 28-year-old skipper Masaba, who calmed the nerves with a big six to take the required rate from 20 runs off 17 balls to 14 off 16.
The big hitting Islanders from Bermuda will be anxious to make an impact after they failed to defend 291 runs against Hong Kong in their opening clash. Victory for Uganda today will give Steve Tikolo’s boys good cushion in their bid to reach the next qualifying stage of the 2023 World Cup in India.
ICC CWC CHALLENGE LEAGUE B
Kenya 253/6 Uganda 254/7
Uganda won by 3 wickets
Jersey 173/10 Hong Kong 177/6
Hong Kong won by 4 wickets
playing today at 9am
Uganda vs. Bermuda, OC Turf 1
Italy vs. Jersey, OC Turf 1
Team M W L Pt NRR
Hong Kong 2 2 0 4 0.470
Uganda 2 2 0 4 0.294
Italy 1 1 0 2 0.289
Bermuda 1 0 1 0 -0.139
Kenya 2 0 2 0 -0.197
Jersey 2 0 2 0 -0.618