As temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius yesterday for the first time since the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division II bowled off last Friday, it was a perfect signal that tournament was starting to take shape.
The heat has been increasing by the day - from 27 when Uganda arrived in the Gulf. The weather forecast also states that it is going to be increasingly hotter, and even tougher for teams to cope as the global showpiece enters the business end.
For Uganda and Kenya, who face off at the Oman Cricket Academy Turf 2 in Al Amarat, it will be a defining moment as both chase one of the two spots at stake to progress to Division II that is scheduled for April 18-28 in Windhoek, Namibia. Currently unbeaten United States of America (USA) and Oman boss the table standings with four points apiece - the former atop courtesy of a healthier Net Run Rate (NRR).
Spot of bother
The East African Derby finds both rivarling foes with a lot on their plates and literally in a spot of bother.
Uganda have won one and lost one. They convincingly outsmarted Denmark by five wickets in the opener but lost to the United States of America by 52 runs in a game that was ‘ruined’ by ICC Match Officials for their poor interpretation of the playing conditions than can partly be blamed for the loss and as the reason Uganda’s was denied their best bowling weapon - the leg-spinning Irfan Afridi to bowl his full quota of overs (10).
That Afridi-gate scandal left a bad feeling in Uganda’s camp as it got them distracted.
And although Uganda are still in a state of shock of how events surrounding Afridi’s bowling action and procedure have transpired, things are even worse for Kenya. The rivalring neighbours are in a ditch and need to find quick respite.
Yesterday, Kenya lost their second successive match to remain winless in as many outings. Having arrived late in the Arabian Peninsular, they lost to hosts Oman by five wickets and then USA annihilated them by 158 runs in a shock result yesterday.
Their batting has not come together as a unit and their top order batsmen particularly have folded meekly early on in the innings with the ‘unfamiliar’ Duke ball swinging, albeit too much. They were 8 for 3 in 10 overs against Oman and 21 for 5 after 8.5 overs in the USA rubber.
“We have to continue fighting for positive results,” said Kenya opening batsman Alex Obanda.