There are no lies about it. The senior national men’s cricket team is feeling good.
And emotionally, the souls of Brian Masaba and teammates are even feeling better after a rather intimate seven-wicket victory over neighbours Kenya at a packed Lugogo Oval yesterday to keep top place after round II of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B.
The Cricket Cranes lost their opening two matches to Jersey and Hong Kong but coach Laurence Mahatlane’s boys saved the best for last to win their last three matches, more importantly the ‘Migingo Derby’ – to keep their route to the 2023 ODI World Cup in India intact.
“This is us,” Mahatlane said after his team put up a brilliant batting display led by in-form Simon Ssesazi’s unbeaten innings of 87 runs off 112 runs to chase Kenya’s score of 220-10 for the loss of three wickets with 29 balls to spare.
To add to their previous eight and seven-wickets triumphs over Bermuda and Italy, Uganda is still top of the League B standings with 16 points after 10 matches and with five more matches to play at round three in Jersey come August.
Masaba and company were rarely at fault in Lugogo. Besides losing the toss to Shem Ngoche, they had almost everything within their control against an eternal rival.
Ngoche opted to bat first but Uganda kept things tight with early inroads, the board reading 67-3 after veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga had taken superb catches of left-hand opener Rushab Patel (14 off 25) at mid-on off Cosmas Kyewuta (3/22) and Collins Obuya (11 off 17) while running backwards at the cow corner.
In between, veteran Nsubuga, who was returning to the starting XI after sitting out Bermuda and Italy matches, had substitute fielder Arnold Otwani catch Alex Obanda (28 off 34).
The vocal 12th man was swinging the momentum Uganda’s way but wicket-keeper Irfan Karim (33 off 66) rotated the strike for his captain Rakep Patel with whom they shared 60 runs to 127-4 midway the 30th over.
“That was very special from the bowling group. They brought us back into the game to win it,” a delighted Masaba said.
“We should have gotten to 260,” Ngoche said after Uganda got nine catches and just one lbw (leg before wicket).
“The wicket didn’t give much to the bowlers as anticipated and I insist, it was not a bad toss to lose,” he added.
Contrary to the history of fumbles or poor shot selection, Uganda’s batsmen offered 2003 ODI World Cup semi-finalists Kenya no chance in the chase. Left-hand opener Ssesazi answered every question with ease, to be honest.
He made 10 boundaries and one six but, with out-of-form first-choice opening batsmen Arnold Otwani and Emmanuel Hasahya both benched, it all was made lighter after Masaba strangely opened the batting with 22 off 34.
“I would like to thank everyone who has come today. It has been massive,” said Ssesazi after his third half-ton of the tourney in Kampala.
“A special thanks to my former school Mukono Patents. It’s been a wonderful day. All that was on my mind was to play for the 41 million Ugandans,” the 26-year-old added.
Dinesh Nakrani, who had been relatively quiet with the bat all tournament, just finished the job smartly with five fours and two sixes in a glittering and unbeaten quick-fire half-ton of 55 runs off 47 balls to arouse palpable emotion.
Jersey stand tall
In Kyambogo, Jersey easily coasted 317-8 inspired by an 80-ball 106 century from Josh Lawrenson and then bowled out opponents Bermuda for 80 runs in 17.5 overs to win by 291 runs and complete five wins out five in Kampala and holding second place with 14 points. Kenya play Hong Kong in Kyambogo today while Italy’s captain Gareth Berg hopes they can take a win back home against Bermuda at Lugogo.
(Uganda won by 7 wickets)
(Jersey won by 291 runs)
TODAY - 10AM
Bermuda vs. Italy
Kenya vs. Hong Kong