By Denis Musali
Uganda v Kenya
Kyambogo Cricket Oval
The last time Uganda and Kenya faced each other in a 50 over game was in the 1st round of the Challenge League in Oman. Captain Brian Masaba held his nerve to score a valuable 21 runs that gave Uganda the edge over their rivals for the 1st time in an ICC event.
Over two years later, a lot has changed! Uganda has a new coach in Laurence Mahatlane, Frank Nsubuga, and Roger Mukasa are not available for this series. Rakeep Patel and Collins Obuya, veteran players for Kenya are also not available for visitors.
Mahatlane looks to use this series to test the depth of his squad with the exclusion of experienced players such as Nsubuga, Mukasa, and Hamu Kayondo with opportunities given to young talents such as Simon Ssesazi, Gerald Mubiru, and newcomer Harsh Panchal.
Saud Islam had a lean spell in Namibia and has been given another lifeline to impress. Ronak Patel and Dinesh Nakrani are also available for the series something that adds experience to the team.
The Captain missed the tour to Namibia through injury but he has made a full recovery and it will be the 1st time he's captaining the side on home soil. During the lockdown in Uganda, Kenneth Waiswa and himself had a pro-stint with Ruaraka Sports Club in Kenya and that experience should have given them some notes about their opponents.
Simon Ssesazi has scored the most runs in the intrasquad games since the arrival of Mahatlane and he finally gets his shot to showcase what he can do for Uganda. He made his senior debut in 2018 in Malaysia. While things didn't go so well for him, he has since worked hard on his game and now looks like a proper gem.
Arnold Otwani has been relieved of the gloves to concentrate on his batting with the inclusion of Fred Achellam in the side. The former was burdened with the gloves and captaincy in Namibia but with that load taken off him, Otwani should be able to flourish.
Deus Muhumuza who also missed the Namibia tour makes a return to the side as one of the all-rounders available for selection alongside Jonathan Ssebanja and youngsters Waiswa and Frank Akankwasa.
The slow bowling will be the responsibility of Henry Ssenyondo and another youngster Gerald Mubiru, both left-arm slow bowlers. It will be interesting to see if Mahatlane will gamble with that combination.
The coach has been brave with his selection and backs his charges to express themselves.
"Iam excited and looking forward to seeing some youngsters that have done well through the last couple of months get their opportunity to put their hands up in the next couple of days. Kenya have also named a good mixture of experienced players and new players"
If we have good weather in Kyambogo both countries should serve some very good cricket for the local fans.