· By comfortably chasing down 195 in the epic quarterfinal against Tornado Bee last Sunday
· Challengers showed that they have enough ammunition in their ranks to win the National T20 Cup.
· Cash tokens of Shs2m and Shs1m have been set aside for the finalists.
By DARREN ALLAN KYEYUNE
This is the moment of truth for the last four; Challengers, Kampala Institute of Cricket Clubs (KICC), Charity Trust Fund and Aziz Damani in what has been a thrilling National Twenty20 Cup thus far.
The four sides in the fray for today’s semifinals and final have earned their stripes over time.
Only two years ago, Challengers beat KICC by seven wickets to win the T20 Cup. In 2012, Charity were losing finalists while Damani reached the semi-finals on the first time of asking last year.
But Damani’s form this year has been phenomenal. They won all their contests to earn promotion to the Division One National 50-Over League and carried the same script to the shorter code (T20).
The side won all their preliminary round fixtures and outclassed Kutchi Tigers in the quarterfinals last wekend. Damani and Challengers (Div. I champions) have a chance of adding more silverware to their trophy cabins.
But first they must sort themselves out in a semifinal duel at Lugogo Oval to earn a date against either Charity or KICC in the final.
“We are chasing the big Cup,” said Damani skipper Sarfaraz Chunara on Friday. But they have a few worries. “All-rounder Brian Masaba is injured while wicket-keeper Shahzad Kamal has an exam to do,” he disclosed.
With the help of Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo, Damani have shipped in Kenyan exponents opener Abraham Vadada, and pace-bowling pair of Lameck Onyango and Lucas Oluoch. Challengers, though, will not go down without a fight. “We have belief that we can go all the way,” said captain Ivan Thawithemwira.
“The fact that we stopped Tornado Bee, we have every reason to dream big. We’ll carry a strong mentality to field,” added opener Arthur Kyobe.
One of KICC and Charity, who lock horns in the second semifinal at Kyambogo, lie in wait the big-spending pair of Challengers and Damani.
It will be second meeting for KICC and Charity in this showpiece. The former nicked a five-run win in the group phase.
“It is difficult to beat a team twice in the same tournament,” said KICC captain Hanumant Katkar. “But we have a chance. We will bank on our bowlers Frank Nsubuga and Irfan Afridi to do the job.”
KICC management have motivated their players by offering Shs2,000 and Shs10,000 per run scored and wicket taken respectively. But youthful Charity have other ideas.
“We are not youngsters anymore. Our confidence has grown over time,” said team leader Lawrence Ssempijja. “We deserve to finish the season with something,” chipped in T20 captain Varinder Singh.
NATIONAL TWENTY20 CUP
TODAY - SEMIFINALS - 10AM
Aziz Damani vs. Challengers, Lugogo
KICC vs. Charity, Kyambogo
FINAL: Lugogo, 3pm
CAST OF T20 CUP WINNERS
2015: Patidar Samaj