Tricky Italian Job for Cricket Cranes

Left-arm orthodox bowler Henry Ssenyondo is a wicket away from double digits. PHOTO/EDDIE CHICCO

What you need to know:

  • Cricket. Skipper Brian Masaba and company must beat Italy at the University Oval in Kyambogo and also decimate neighbours Kenya on Sunday if they don’t want the permutations to 2023 ICC ODI World Cup dream in India to get more complex.

Hosts Uganda should ordinarily feel better after tasting their first delight at round II of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B by beating Bermuda by eight wickets on Tuesday.

That victory in Lugogo partly calmed the nerves of the fans and coach Laurence Mahatlane who couldn’t fathom the shambolic cricket played in the opening 62-run defeat to Jersey a week ago and then a six-wicket loss to Hong Kong on Monday. 

Whereas that came expectedly easy against the men from Caribe, the Cricket Cranes still got work to do.

Skipper Brian Masaba and company must beat Italy at the University Oval in Kyambogo and also decimate neighbours Kenya on Sunday if they don’t want the permutations to 2023 ICC ODI World Cup dream in India to get more complex.

Call for more

Following Hong Kong’s 194-run win over Bermuda thanks to Baba Hayat’s 102-ball 135 ton and veteran Eshan Khan (4/20 in 4.1 overs) in Kyambogo yesterday, the Asians are back to the summit of League B with 13 points from eight while Uganda is second with 12 points.

Considering that either Hong Kong or third-placed Jersey (10 points) will drop points when they face-off in Lugogo today, then the Italian job must definitely be done.

And it perfectly fits Masaba’s desire to give the local fans even more. 
“This is the best crowd I have played in front of, the fans have been special,” the all-rounder stated after the win on Tuesday.

“They’ve sat with us over some two bad days and hopefully we can give them some more.”

The defeats to Jersey and Hong Kong fractured the 15-month momentum that Mahatlane had built but this fixture and the derby on Sunday present room to overcome doom.

Uganda beat Italy by 38 runs after round I in Oman on December 9, 2019 but the Europeans have trust in opener Nikolai Smith and Gian-Piero Sergio Meade for runs.

Even if they’ve lost Their experienced South Africa-born captain Gareth Berg is tough to play and actually leads the tournament’s bowling charts with 23 wickets and 14 maidens from eight matches.

Yesterday, Berg picked 3/33 and three maidens even though Kenya set 340-9 in Lugogo yesterday. Italy even attempted to chase the score, falling short by a batsman at 250-9 to lose by 135 runs.

“There’s always a good fight with Uganda. I am looking forward to the challenge,” Berg said.

His team has pushed in every chase in Kampala, scoring 225 runs thanks to Jaspreet Singh (81 off 60) in pursuit of Hong Kong’s 283 six days ago and Meade making 42 off 52 in quest of Jersey’s 224 on Tuesday in Lugogo.

No room for error

The Italians beat Uganda by 13 runs during the ICC Twenty20 World Cup Qualifier in UAE and Masaba knows there’s no more room for error.

“Anything can happen, it’s one game at a time. We are going to use a new wicket and have to go out there and execute. What matters is playing to your standards,” he added. 

The Cranes have had concerns in camp with Cosmas Kyewuta carrying a niggle, Arnold Otwani with a bruised hand and Kenneth Waiswa hit on the hand against Bermuda.

But, Otwani, who came in for Emmanuel Hasahya atop the order, ought to give something better than a combined three runs off 23 balls against Hong Kong and Bermuda.

Otherwise, in-form Simon Ssesazi and Ronak Patel will require more support from Waiswa, Masaba, Riazat Ali Shah and Dinesh Nakrani.

While facing Bermuda, Nakrani (2/17) may have passed absent Bilal Hassun (10) as the team highest wicket taker in the tournament with 11, but there’s more needed with the bat.

Left-arm orthodox bowler Henry Ssenyondo is a wicket away from double digits but it may still be difficult for veteran spinner Frank Nsubuga to play ahead of Frank Akankwasa, if scoring runs is put into context.

Or, the 41-year-old could return to the fold to do the magic at a championship where his usually tidy economy has inflated.


ICC WORLD CUP CHALLENGE LEAGUE B

TODAY’S FIXTURES - 10AM
Hong Kong vs. Jersey, Lugogo
Uganda vs. Italy, Kyambogo

YESTERDAY’S RESULTS
Kenya 340/9 Italy 205/9
(Kenya won by 135 runs)
Hong Kong 313/9 Bermuda 119/10
(Hong Kong won by 194 runs)

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