KAMPALA. Team Uganda will need perfection and probably even more in their remaining three matches to meet their desired goal at the ICC Africa Men’s Twenty20 Cup Finals.
The hosts were left with very little room for error after they faltered in a 42-run loss to ODI nation Namibia at the University Oval in Kyambogo yesterday.
Any other defeat in the remaining outings beginning with Kenya at Lugogo Oval this afternoon casts a shadow on the Cricket Cranes’ chances of earning the coveted top two places to the ICC Global T20 Qualifier, the last step to the 2020 World Cup.
Coaches Steve Tikolo and Jackson Ogwang appeared quiet but their masked forlorn figures coupled with less talk between their players after failing to chase 168 runs detailed the mood in Kyambogo at lunch time.
The defeat had been built on a series of sloppy fielding at some point, well selected poor shots with the bat and in some cases, no answers to some things that were done by the men from Windhoek. “Namibia played very good cricket,” acknowledged assistant coach Ogwang during the post-match interview.
And rightly so. Namibia vindicated their recent ICC World Cricket League Division Two triumph by skipping every hurdle Uganda put in their way to make it two in two in Kampala.
“It was just a bad day in office,” Uganda’s captain Roger Mukasa stated. “We are going to keep our heads up. It’s (Kenya) a big game for us to stay in the tournament,” he added.
The loss could have triggered Tikolo to make some changes with assistant captain Brian Masaba coming in or Rogers Olipa earning his senior debut against Kenya, who also made it 2-0 with an afternoon 53-run victory over Ghana thanks to Rakep Patel’s half-ton of 55 runs off 27 balls at Kyambogo.
After Namibia skipper Gerhard Erasmus had beaten Mukasa on the coin and elected to bat, it appeared as wrong choice when his openers Stephen Baard (10-run-a-ball) and Nikolaas Davin (11 off 8) went for early showers at 25-2 in 3.2 overs. Erasmus too departed for 11 and would be followed by wicket-keeper Zane Green with a single digit as Dinesh Nakrani (2/29) bossed the stage at 53-4 after 8.4 overs.
Here, Uganda had Namibia on the wall but, not for long. Veteran Christi Viljoen (30 off 33) and man-of-match winner Karl Birkenstock (59 off 28) turned the tables with a classic 61-run fifth-wicket partnership.
By the time Riazat Ali (1/20) had both eliminated in a space of 11 balls, Namibia was comfortable at 137-6 midway the 17th with much relief owed to Birkenstock who had hit six boundaries and four sixes.
“We had to adapt to these conditions and still have to do that,” Erasmus would say. “The bigger picture is winning this tournament,” he said ahead of this afternoon’s match against Botswana at Kyambogo.
Seamer Charles Waiswa (2/45) would then quickly stop danger man JJ Smit on 16 off 15 but then Jan Frylinck (19* off 10) blew away his fellow left-hander with 13 runs off the last over.
Uganda’s start in the chase was strangely electric with Zephaniah Arinaitwe picking a six and a four before a total 14 runs off the first over by orthodox bowler Zhivago Groenewald.
Teenager Arinaitwe (15 off 11) then got undone by excitement, handing Erasmus an easy catch at long-on at 31-1 after three overs.
Hamu Kayondo (15-run-a-ball) cheaply fell into Davin’s palms off Viljoen (4/15) with the board reading 42-2 after five overs, another warning that the wheels wouldn’t last the mile.
Then Uganda’s strike rate sharply dropped when Arnold Otwani gave Tangeni Lungameni a maiden for the seventh over and that was enough to let the batting demons settle at the crease.