Four wins out of four matches is a script no pundit, even the most passionate, would have predicted.
The Cricket Cranes have labelled their last match of the International Cricket Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC) League B showpiece against Hong Kong, today, as their final.
In a three-legged tournament where every match counts and every point garnered makes the pathway to the 2023 World Cup in India clearer, coach Steve Tikolo and his boys want to make their current form and momentum count.
Uganda have eight points and can end with 10 if they can overcome Hong Kong ahead of the Kampala leg next July.
“This is our final and we are not going to treat it like anything else but a real grand finale,” proclaimed vice-captain Arnold Otwani, who stood in for ‘sick’ Brian Masaba against Italy and already boasts of two wins from as many matches in the games he has captained Uganda.
“Hong Kong have also not yet lost a match and we know they’re a very strong side especially with their recent showing in the Asia Cup when they run India close. But the onus is on us. We are going to put our bodies on the line and throw everything we have in our tanks at them. We no other option.”
Hong Kong power
During the Asia Cup in September 2018, India set Hong Kong a stiff target of 286 and whereas the former thought it was a good enough total the latter showed steel with Nizakat Khan and former captain Rath Anshuman adding a record 174-run opening partnership.
Hong Kong would lose by 26 runs in the end but they had more than showcased their real fighting spirit and potential.
The Asians went on to put up a stellar show at last October’s ICC T20 World Cup Qualifier before unluckily going down by 12 runs to Oman in the playoff to miss a chance at the ‘Big Dance’ in Australia next year by the thinnest of margins.
Areas to exploit
But Hong Kong have also had their fair share of their problems. In August, opener Irfan Ahmed was found guilty of trying to corrupt games along with his spin-bowling brother, Nadeem Ahmed.
Their team-mate Haseeb Amjad was also penalised for spot-fixing and is serving a five-year ban.
And it is on this pre-text that Uganda will look to pounce on their rivals’ relatively young side coached by Ireland legend Trent Johnston.
“We have to trust the process and do the basics even if we have four wins in four matches. Keeping the winning formula and keeping our awareness levels high will be key,” said coach Tikolo.
Hong Kong who lost hosting rights for this event due to the civil strife back home, will rely on on-form Kinchit Shah, Waqas Barkat and Khan whereas Uganda will pump up Shahzad Kamal, Ronak Patel, Frank Nsubuga and Roger Mukasa for one more final effort.
ICC CWC CHALLENGE LEAGUE B
Uganda 218/10 Italy 180
Uganda won by 38 runs
Jersey 233/5 Kenya 239/3
Kenya won by 7 wickets
playing today - 8:30am
Uganda vs. Hong Kong, OC Turf 1
Bermuda vs. Jersey, OC Turf 2
Team M W L N/R Pt NRR
Uganda 4 4 0 0 8 0.593
Hong Kong 3 2 0 1 5 0.470
Kenya 4 1 2 1 3 0.027
Italy 4 1 2 1 3 -0.985
Jersey 4 1 3 0 2 0.200
Bermuda 3 0 2 1 1 -0.652