BY INNOCENT NDAWULA
ICC CWC CHALLENGE LEAGUE B
Result - Monday, December 2
Uganda 248/8 (Dinesh Nakrani 79*, Shahzad Kamal 47, Brian Masaba 40; Julius Sumerauer 3/51 in 8 overs) beat Jersey 223 All Out in 49.1 overs (Ben Stevens 43, Nick Greenwood 40, Jonty Jenner 30; Dinesh Nakrani 2/32 in 8.1, Frank Nsubuga 2/41 in 7) by 25 runs
Man of Match: Dinesh Kumar of Uganda
DECEMBER 3 FIXTURES - 9AM (EAT)
Italy vs. Kenya, OC Turf 1
Bermuda vs. Hong Kong, OC Turf 2
Things couldn’t have gotten any better for Team Uganda as they got off to a flying start with a 25-run win against Jersey at the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B in Muscat, Oman. Victory guaranteed Uganda a dream start in their long journey to secure a coveted place to the 2023 World Cup in India with two points in the bag and another eight still left to play for.
The Cricket Cranes, though, had to skip many hurdles take the day’s honours. New skipper Brian Mark Masaba, in just his second reign as captain after a successful first one in Zimbabwe last month, was asked to bat first after losing the toss. Uganda’s opposition - Jersey - had been in Muscat for five days prior to the tournament, played three warm-up matches and half of their side enjoyed boast of some enviable English County Cricket experience.
The early jitters got the better of Uganda’s top order batsmen who crumbled to the swinging Duke ball at 36 for 3 after 9.5 overs with Arnold Otwani (12), Roger Mukasa (16) and Ronak Patel (0) back in the dugout and duly subjected to cheering roles.
But Masaba (40 off 83) sought to lead from the front with the beautiful stroke-making Shahzad Kamal (47 off 56), returning to the side for the first time since the disastrous 2017 World Cricket League Division III, rebuilding the innings with a 70-run partnership for the fourth wicket to steer the Cricket Cranes back on track.
Both fell cheaply trying to up the ante and forthwith missed out on reaching the half century landmark. Then new men Dinesh Nakrani (79*) and Riazat Ali Shah (37) turned struggling starts into controlled aggression shifts to guide Uganda to 248 for the loss of 8 wickets after the allotted 50 overs - Uganda’s highest since April 2018 when they set 249 for 5 against Bermuda in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division IV meet.
Nakrani’s unbeaten 70-ball knock; comprising of five boundaries and four beautiful sixes, and bowling figures of 2 for 32 in 8.1 overs won him the Man of Match Award - his first in 50-over international cricket.
“I am happy for my first international 50-over cricket award. At some moments when Jersey dominated, I thought the game was gone. But our senior players came to the party and I thank the captain for trusting me to bowl me in specific moments,” said left-handed Nakrani.
But there were other good men on the day that made it count for Uganda. Veteran Frank Nsubuga (2/41) struck twice at crucial intervals, skipper Masaba managed to rewind the clock with some medium pacers to eject danger-man Ben Stevens (43 off 58) as Jersey threatened to steal it at 100 for 2 in 28 overs and 196 for 6 in 43 overs. The fielding was also spot on, accounting for two Jersey batsmen’s runouts with admirable flawless ground fielding and clinical catching.
Masaba lauded his boys for a great team effort.
“It is always important to get off any tournament with victory. Jersey played well but we backed ourselves to do better than them. We also outfoxed them and bowled less spin which is their favourite,” said Masaba.
Uganda will take some earned rest for the next two days, look to recuperate and hope injured opening bowler Charles Waiswa, who was driven off to hospital after awkwardly landing on his back, can recover in time for the next outing against Kenya on December 5.
The new-look World Cup qualifying format replaces the old World Cricket League (WCL) mode of play. Two pools of six teams - Leagues A and B - are supposed to play in annual tournaments until 2021, over three legs, with the top sides in each league progressing to the 2022 Cricket World Cup Play-Off tournament. Uganda are in League B alongside Jersey, Hong Kong, Kenya, Bermuda and Italy.