The Royal Varsani Bucks are hoping to keep their unbeaten run for a third-day running after they made it three-in-three in the Uganda Elite League at Lugogo yesterday.
Bucks’ skipper Arnold Otwani afforded a smile like a royal in a palace following their seven-wicket victory over Mamba Challengers in the morning contest.
“We are definitely happy,” Otwani told this paper. “Things are going according to plan and we want to keep it that way.”
But the Bucks are producing some fine chases in the showpiece Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) put up to salvage the coronavirus-hampered year.
Like Day One on Sunday, Bucks’ opener Simon Ssesaazi smashed three boundaries and two sixes to put up a match-winning unbeaten half-ton of 51 runs off 55 balls to ably chase a target of 108 runs on the penultimate ball of the innings.
But, like all T20 contests, even after Robinson Obuya’s 35-ball 31, the innings appeared dramatic at the end.
Bucks’ men at the crease Ssesaazi and Fred Achelam (9* off 11) needed seven runs off the final over from Challengers’ spinner Irfan Afridi.
The first ball was a dot, then Achelam was dropped by Rogers Olipa at the long-on boundary for four.
He added a single, then a dot and when they needed 2 runs off two balls, Ssesaazi ran for a single and when Olipa attempted to run him out for the next winning run, he instead overthrew the ball to sink the Challengers.
“We are a good bowling side. So we are doing our best to limit the oppositions to low scores and we are going to try chase in each game,” added Otwani.
Meanwhile, Challengers’ coach Jackson Ogwang had a 30-minute pep talk after his side conceded a third straight loss in the afternoon, going down to the Aziz Damani Scorpions by five wickets after another mediocre batting display.
One would think the Challengers are struggling with the absence of top-order players like Hamu Kayondo. “No, we are not short of players,” argued left-arm orthodox bowler Henry Ssenyondo.
“We are short of responsibility,” he said. “We are not batting. And that is leaving a big job for us the bowlers. And this must change,” Ssenyondo added.
None of Challengers’ top three players had double digits. They piled a combined 17 runs and it is the middle-order of Ivan Thawithemwira (19 off 21), Kenneth Waiswa (29* off 30) and skipper Frank Akankwasa (19 off 20) who aided the side to set a fairly respectable 105-6.
Scorpions’ Lawrence Ssempijja got 2/16.
With a target of almost less than a run-a-ball, Scorpions had a cakewalk to their first win of the tournament with 10 balls to spare thanks to opener Wasim Butt’s 34 off 26 and left-hander Kamal Shahzad’s 37 off 29.
The Scorpions will hope to build on the victory when they play the double-header against Bucks and Challengers today.
“We played better than yesterday (Sunday) and it is good to finally get some points on board,” said Scorpions’ captain Brian Masaba. “We are improving in the next games.”