KAMPALA. The Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup didn’t heed to the fact that sport hates dominance as the tournament wrapped up on Sunday.
It ended with familiar sights as Aziz Damani sealed a rare season double after beating perennial Cup finalists KICC by 31 runs at the University Oval in Kyambogo on a day largely devoid of sunshine.
Now Damani players have the mandate to demand for something more than a celebratory trip to Kenya from club owner Siva Koti.
This is after they became the first club since Tornado back in 2012 to win both the T20 and limited-overs’ silverware.
“It is our best day,” Koti said moments after his common loud celebrations with the players at dusk with the trophy and a Shs2m dummy cheque from sponsors Unimoni.
Businessman Koti had won a black t-shirt on the day with a gigantic print of the face of an African lion, much to show much Damani had roared in the club cricket jungle this year.
“We have won all trophies in the year,” he said of the double, also done by the Damani ladies.
“We had planned for this and we have achieved it. We motivated the players and had good training,” he added.
The players must be happier. “It wasn’t easy but we did the basics right,” left-arm pace bowler Charles Waiswa said in front of television camera.
Damani defended the 50-Over League by going unbeaten over 14 matches but in the T20, they had been floored by Ceylon Lions via the group stages on November 24.
Somehow they found sweet revenge on Sunday when the two faced off in the morning semifinal at Lugogo, Damani successfully chasing a target of 142 runs. Lions had failed to stop them from getting 35 runs from the last 15 balls.
On the other hand in Lugogo, KICC had denied three-peat chasing Challengers by winning a low-scoring thriller by 11 runs after Suleman Sharif and Irfan Afridi had put another customary stand-out batting show. But KICC must consult their gods more if they are ever to play a T20 Cup final. It turned out that they lost a third final, like it happened in 2014 and 2016 to Challengers.
“We are not cursed,” KICC captain Hanumant Katkar said, “We didn’t do enough to win it. May be we are just a little shy of the podium but we’ll get there someday,” he said.
Obviously, once beaten, twice shy for KICC but Damani as well had other ideas having failed to unlock the championship door even with four straight semifinals.
With Damani opting to bat first, they relied on Saud Islam’s 36-ball 47 to reach a safe total of 140-8 even if KICC bowlers Falak Shar (3/26), Afridi (2/33) and Davis Karashani (2/23) had been resistant.
Then Wassim Butt began the chase for KICC like a man on a mission, the opener stroking six boundaries and five sixes but his innings ended at the 12th over with a fine knock of 68 off 37.
Unfortunately, his teammates couldn’t supplement in a more distinct way, Damani’s Bilal Hassun (2/13) and Riazat Shah (4/17) clipping their small wings smartly. Butt was ‘consoled’ with a Player of Series accolade while Sharif was Best Batsman.