KAMPALA. Team Uganda’s hopes of making the top two places to the Global Qualifier were heavily dashed after they lost the fiery East African derby by a mammoth run to Kenya at Lugogo Oval during the ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Finals yesterday.
For the last decade, the Cricket Cranes have endured pain measured in insurmountable proportions but last afternoon’s defeat could have beaten all the sad stories after they fell short of a target of 145 runs.
The partisan crowd’s cheers instantly deflated when mid-order batsman Riazat Ali Shah scooped Elijah Otieno’s (3/37) penultimate delivery behind to the Jinja Road end for a boundary, leaving Uganda requiring another eight runs off the final ball of the innings.
Shah, who had endured all the way finished off with a six for a very respectable unbeaten innings of 44 runs off 35 balls but it was only good enough to ignite Kenya’s celebrations after their third win in as many matches.
So near yet so far for Uganda. And there will likely be no bombardier leaving Entebbe for the Global Qualifier in UAE come October.
The second straight tournament defeat for Uganda was too difficult to take in. “I just want to thank the fans for coming,” with a deep breath through the microphone, that’s how much Uganda captain Roger Mukasa could offer in the post-match interview.
The sight as Mukasa spoke could tell it all. Debutant Rogers Olipa effortlessly folded his arms, Hamu Kayondo looked dejected with arms on his waist, Dinesh Nakrani could have shed tears in the dressing room, a sweating Shah was speechless and assistant Jackson Ogwang grit his teeth. No one could console another.
“At the end of it, a bit disappointing. Losing by one run hurts,” said Uganda’s coach Steve Tikolo.
Two defeats in two days leave Uganda in fourth place but this loss and the 42-run defeat to Namibia on Tuesday could have been different results.
The Cranes had Namibia on the wall at 53-4 after eight overs before letting them to a safe 166-7.
Yesterday, Kenya skipper Shem Ngoche chose to bat first and they were on their knees at 15-2 after 2.5 overs with openers Alex Obanda and Dhiren Gondaria out thanks to fiery pace from left-arm seamer Charles Waiswa (4/38).
A recovery 47-run partnership between Irfan Karim (28 off 37) and veteran Collins Obuya (21 off 33) went as far as the end of the 12th over and Uganda’s bowlers led by Waiswa and Nakrani (2/36) appeared to be in firm control.
However, they miraculously lost the grip when Rakep Patel powered a late half-ton of 51* runs off 22 balls with three boundaries and five sixes.
“I do it for my team,” Rakep said later after picking his second man-of-match award in two days. “They (team) have been putting in a lot of work and I like the pressure.”
How did it happen though? Kenya picked 19 runs off the 16th over, fired 18 from the 17th, 11 off the 18th and 15 off the final over with Rakep’s last maximum sealing their innings to set 144-9.
“We had their backs on the wall, (but) two overs put the game in their way,” Tikolo stated.
Uganda had a taste of its own medicine in the chase, with Mukasa quickly following teenage opener Zephaniah Arinaitwe back to the dugout like father following son at 20-2 inside the opening 19 balls after nearly identical shots to long-on.
Arnold Otwani (10 off 11) also departed 13 balls later and opener Hamu Kayondo (31 off 23) built a pretty steady recovery with left-hander Nakrani (19 off 14) before the former fell at 9.1 overs, board reading 64-4. Nakrani went 18 balls later.
ICC MEN’S T20 FINALS
Nigeria 135/8 Ghana 107/8
(Nigeria won by 28 runs)
Botswana 46/10 Namibia 50/0
(Namibia won by 10 wickets with 97
Kenya 145/6 Uganda 144/9
(Kenya won by 1 run)
Botswana vs. Kenya 9.30am, Kyambogo
Uganda vs. Ghana, 1.50pm, Kyambogo
Nigeria vs. Namibia, 1.50pm, Lugogo