Ceylon Lions captain captain Ruwan Jayaratne insists his team still has the abilities to contend for the National Men’s Division One 50-Over League title despite a recent slump.
The Lions’ party as they launched their new den at the Kamengo Oval was crushed when they were bowled out for a paltry 48 runs only to lose by five wickets to Wanderers a fortnight ago.
Jayaratne, however, is optimistic that his team will be back on their feet when they take on Kutchi Tigers at the lakeside Oval in Entebbe today.
“We have done our homework over the last few days,” he said early this week. To make the most of the Kamengo Oval, the Lions play several friendly matches.
Last weekend, they beat Patidar Samajs by 117 runs with Deus Muhumuza scoring a 113-ball 100 century as they set 266-6 in 45 overs.
On Friday, Jayaratne had set up a friendly with the Cricket Cranes before they depart to Windhoek for the Tour of Namibia next week.
“We want to face Kutchi with confidence,” he stated. Muhumuza leads the league’s bowling charts with seven wickets from three matches.
Missing star batsmen
He will however have to do without his leading batsman Shahzad Kamal who has 102 runs in one innings, Alex Obanda and David Wabwire who are constrained by work and studies.
Now, those are the gaps Tigers will hope to exploit when they start their season. “Our expectation this year is to work very hard and be in the top four positions and have a competitive league as all teams are balanced,” noted Tigers’ captain Alphesh Hirani.
Top-order batsman Ankit Patel is back from Patidar to play for Tigers and they will look to have a combo with Bharat Ghodadra, Nandi Kishor, Nanji Pindoriya, Dhansukh Jesani and Mitul Pindoriya among other youngsters.
“It will be a team effort, we are going to start strongly and give 100 percent with hope for the best result,” Hirani added.
Elsewhere, Aziz Damani Development I and II will be looking to make hay in the National Men’s Division Two 50-Over League at different venues.
Unbeaten pace-setters Aziz Damani Development I will be aiming to keep their flawless record against ‘stubborn’ Jinja SS at Kyambogo Oval.