Cranes seek to claw back in Namibia

Monday April 05 2021
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Fearless knock. Cricket Cranes opening batsman Roger Mukasa showed flashes of brilliance in his cameo of 26 runs off 23 balls that included three fours and one six against Namibia on Friday. PHOTO/Innocent Ndawula

By Innocent Ndawula

WINDHOEK. It is one of those games when a coach is caught between a rock and a hard place on whether to blame the team for a loss or pat a few players on the back for a handful of fine shifts.
Less than 24 hours after setting foot in Windhoek, the Cricket Cranes were given a ‘rude welcome’ at the Wanderers Cricket Ground on Friday by the Namibian Eagles, who romped to seven-wicket win with 31 balls remaining in the opening tie of the three-match Castle Lite Series that has at stake the International Cricket Council (ICC) ranking status and points.

The omens had been right with the tour skipper Arnold Otwani (7 off 11) winning the pre-match toss and electing to bat. Alongside Roger Mukasa (26 off 23 balls), they made a solid start as they reached 37 runs in 5 overs before 20-year-old Ben Shikongo (2/24) castled Mukasa, whose innings was littered with three boundaries and a powerful six.

From then on, Cranes batsmen were caught in an island on whether to consolidate or accelerate the innings. 
The former is what many went for and by the time Riazat Ali Shah came in at No.6 in the 16th over with the scoreboard reading 92 for 4, his cameo of 23 off 14, including two sixes, was as daunting as the sight of a new blunt knife.
Uganda only set 134 for 5 in 20 overs.

Poor second innings
And despite having the hosts at 12 for 2 after 2.2 overs, Uganda’s fielding was way below par with four chances put down in the field. Too many boundary bowls were offered, too.
Eagles captain Gerhard Erasmus, who reached 1,000 career runs, was one of the beneficiaries of Uganda’s butter fingers after veteran Frank Nsubuga put him down at mid-on before he had five runs. 
What could have been 16 for 4 or 20 for 5 instead became 135 for 3 as Erasmus pounded a powerful half-ton of 62 off 36 balls (five fours, four sixes) to steer his side home with 31 balls to spare.

The Cricket Cranes are preparing for ICC World Cricket Challenge League B in Jersey this September and ICC T20 World Sub Regional Qualifier in South Africa in November. 
And whereas the world went feasting on Easter Sunday, it was time for reflection for the 21-man contingent in Windhoek, who broke sweat with an engrossing training session at the Wanderers and a team talk.