Familiar false start

Quick Single. Uganda’s top runs scorer Ronak Patel (R) whose half century of 64 came off 94 balls runs for dear life to complete a single in the 62-run loss to Jersey in the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B at Lugogo Oval on Friday. PHOTO / EDDIE CHICCO 

What you need to know:

  • Déjà vu Feeling. Uganda started the campaign atop the log and still have a chance to stay up there. But the 62-run loss in the opening game will remind them of how listless they have been in home tournaments when they go down in their openers - a similar scenario of 2017 Kampala

The weekend has been down to soul searching for the senior national men’s cricket team within their rooms in the team camp at the lavish Commonwealth Resort Munyonyo.

The gloom therein and decibels of worry amongst fans elsewhere didn’t give the tournament hosts a chance as the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B round II started on Friday.

The Cricket Cranes and fans felt lost within their own emotions after an opening 62-run loss to Jersey at Lugogo Oval. A typical case of déjà vu like the 66-run opening defeat to Canada at the same venue during the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament on May 23, 2017.

Yet still, it is not that bad. Uganda still leads the six-team log with 10 points from six matches having won all the five outings in the Round One played in Oman some 30 months ago. But the East African nation’s route to the ICC ODI World Cup set for India next year developed cracks, not so big but those which one can’t underestimate.

Great shift

“Jersey was a better team; they executed a better game than us. That cost us a bit,” Uganda’s captain Brian Masaba said in the post-match interview.

“The guys put in a great shift,” Jersey’s skipper Charles Perchard remarked of their first win over Uganda in recent history. The Cricket Cranes fell short of a target as high as their own country code - 256 - runs as they were bowled out for 193 runs in 45.2 overs. But, the building blocks to the results are many.

On one hand, Masaba and his coach Laurence Mahatlane should be delighted with the impressive half-centuries from in-form pairing of left-hand opener Simon Ssesazi (50 runs off 41 balls) and Ronak Patel (64 runs off 95 balls).

Rarely do two batsmen score that highly for Uganda in the same innings at this level of the game. And that pair shared 91 runs for the second wicket and the hosts looked really comfortable at 92-2 after 14.2 overs.

However, Ronak barely received support as the Cranes made just 18 runs over the next six overs. Let’s bolden that conversation a little more. Besides wicket-keeper Fred Achelam (21 off 43) and Riazat Ali Shah (10 off 22), seven other men in yellow didn’t reach double digits. That should be a big reality check for Mahatlane, his players and fans on whether the team is a genuine World Cup slot contender in the One Day International (ODI) format.

Again, one would struggle to recall a time Uganda has successfully chased totals above 250 runs in ICC events.

Yet, even if Mahatlane had a chat with selectors Richard Okia and Nehal Bibodi as dusk set in at Lugogo on Friday, one can’t quickly leap eyes over the rise in quality and enviable momentum this team had built prior. It is just down to a few more details, largely the rather unexplainable fielding display after Masaba had opted to bowl first after beating his opposite Charles Perchard to the toss.

Missed chances

Five dropped catches and a missed run-out by Achelam punctuate the whole story and again, another rare from Uganda - arguably one of the best fielding nations in the world.

On a flat wicket which offered very little all morning, it took Masaba two bowling changes from Cosmas Kyewuta (1/49) and brilliant List A cricket debutant teenager Juma Miyagi (1/22) to Dinesh Nakrani (1/51) and Frank Nsubuga (0/56) to pick the game’s first wicket after 17 overs. Harrison Carylon returned to the dugout with 34 runs off 55 balls after being run out by Achelam following a stellar hand-in by Nsubuga .

From 77-1, opener Nick Greenwood rode his luck to score 80 off 93 comprising 11 boundaries and a six and, his departure after 30 overs had left the board at 141-2. Josh Lawrenson (43), Ben Stevens (19), Jonty Jenner (22) and Dominic Blampied (25* off 18) built a safe total.

Captain confident

Did Masaba (1/24), who also used Shah (1/44) and injured Deus Muhumuza (0/4 in four balls) make the wrong choice after the toss? “Not at all,” he replied.

“250 (runs) was par on this wicket. It became a bit tough for us to chase it down. We just didn’t apply ourselves well.” A quick response is now needed, some clinical cricket must be produced to overcome this loss.  At least two changes will be inevitable when the Cricket Cranes return to action against their biggest rivals - Hong Kong - at the University Oval in Kyambogo tomorrow.

Should another defeat surface, then it could flip many more pages in the ugly book of doom!

ROUND II OPENING RESULT

Jersey 255/6 Uganda 193/10

(Jersey won by 62 runs)

TOMORROW FIXTURES - 10AM

Jersey           vs. Kenya, Lugogo

Hong Kong vs. Uganda, Kyambogo

TUESDAY, JUNE 21

Uganda        vs.   Bermuda, Lugogo

Italy               vs.   Jersey, Kyambogo

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