If Cranes coach Micho Sredojevic’s relationship with domestic football governing body Fufa could be summed up in a music track, ‘Oh, How the Years Go By,’ would sound appropriate.
Written Many fans, former and current players, officials and the entire cricket fraternity are beaming with delight and swagger after the U19 boys’ national team stylishly sealed a ticket to next year’s ICC Youth ODI World Cup in Rwanda yesterday.
The Baby Cricket Cranes produced immaculate innings to bowl out Tanzania for 51 runs inside 26.5 overs before chasing the total within 62 balls to smile to a desired eight-wicket triumph at the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Center (IPRC) oval in Kicukiro.
The stellar display spurred by skipper Pascal Murungi’s spell of 4/9 in 3.5 overs gave Uganda the oomph to reach a total six points, on-level with their opponents and Namibia, who edged Nigeria by six runs via Duckworth & Lewis Method (D/L).
But the Ugandan boys had the edge after yielding a better Net Run Rate (NRR) of 2.128 to surpass Namibia (0.817) and Tanzania’s (0.381).
The Cranes booked the ticket to West Indies 2020 having risen from an opening seven-wicket loss to Namibia in Kicukiro last Thursday.
“There are some things you can’t really express with words,” winning coach Ivan Thawithemwira said after palpable emotions engulfed his team when Isaac Ategeka (28* off 28) smashed two successive boundaries off Laksh Bakrania’s second over to seal the win at 10.2 overs.
Uganda has not played at the ICC ODI Youth World Cup since featuring at the Bangladesh 2004 and Sri Lanka 2006 editions. “It surely is a life-changing moment so I also think it is a pivotal moment for Uganda cricket,” noted Thawi.
“It means a lot,” said Murungi, who rallied on the charges during the celebrations punctuated by Thawi hugging Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) Martin Ondeko, Ismail Munir running with the flag and national selector Richard Okia cheering on with fist-pumps and hugs. “It has changed our history. All I can say is we deserve a chance to be there so we are also one of the best teams in the world,” stated Murungi.
To seal the ticket to the Caribbean, the Baby Cricket Cranes had to mix class and grit with both and bat all the way to the last round-robin match.
In response to the Namibia loss, they set 311-9 with Cyrus Kakuru knocking off a 106-ball 111 century and forming a 152-run fifth-wicket partnership with Murungi (66 off 68) before beating Rwanda by 100 runs via D/L.
Then on Monday, Uganda raised its NRR to 1.292 after a collective batting effort elevating them to 207 runs before right-arm off-break Joseph Baguma’s magic wand of 5/22 guided them to an 82-run win over Nigeria.
When Murungi opted to field after winning the decisive toss at a turning Kicukiro wicket yesterday morning, they were planning to castle Tanzania’s NRR (1.560).
Then bowlers Juma Miyaji (1/12), Akram Nsubuga (1/8), Baguma (2/16), Munir (1/5) and Murungi meant the business, thereby giving opener Ronald Opio (16 off 18) and anchor-man Ategeka a modest target - to finish off the job before the 12th over.
“Everything came in our way after executing our plans. We’ve really worked hard to achieve this,” added Murungi. West Indies awaits!