For nearly two decades, the men’s national cricket team has performed thrillers at the international front.
In some, the Cricket Cranes lose painfully, by a run or a wicket which can be marinated by regrets of a series of dropped catches. Yet, in the others, the power of delight grips the team.
The atmosphere was palpable at the lakeside oval within the Entebbe golf course when the Cranes held on to beat Kenya by six runs in a pulsating Pearl of Africa T20 Tri-Series’ final on Friday.
Coach Laurence Mahatlane received some of his desired episodes as he celebrated his second trophy in two weeks.
“As a coach, I can only be super proud and happy with the boys that they have managed to pull off two good Series, especially given that Kenya are ranked eight positions above us,” Mahatlane said after the Cranes added to the 50-Over Derby Trophy in which they beat Kenya 2-1 at Kyambogo.
The spirit is now in high gear ahead of next month’s ICC Africa Sub-Regional T20 World Cup Qualifier in Rwanda.
“Now in the top 30 T20 nations and allow the momentum to continue,” said Mahatlane after his team superbly defended a low batting total of 120-9.
The projected score however had appeared to be big when Simon Ssesaazi (21 off 26) and Saud Islam (26 off 35) made 36 runs in the first 38 balls.
Kenya’s chase began pretty well with the scoreboard at 35-0 after 18 balls. But Frank Akankwasa (2/11), who has done enough to be on the plane to Rwanda, produced a turnaround in the 10th over, dismissing Gurdeep Bhagat (44 off 43) and Nehemiah Ngoche (8 off 13), at 63-3.
“We noticed the wicket would deteriorate as the game proceeded, especially in the second innings. So we wanted to play around with the scoreboard pressure,” said skipper Deus Muhumuza.
However, Kenya’s coach David Obuya left Entebbe a happy man. “This was a very young, inexperienced side, and for me, they’ve made me proud,” he said.
Pearl of Af’ca T20 Series
Uganda won by 6 runs
Uganda won by 55 runs
Uganda won by 4 wickets
Kenya won by 59 runs
Uganda won by 8 wickets
Uganda won by 56 runs
Kenya won by 8 wickets
Kenya won by 22 runs