TOUR OF INDIA ITINERARY
Today, February 16:
Two Twenty20s (ND Warriors & Skipper XI)
40-Over Match vs. Surat District CA U-19
40-Over Match vs. Surat District CA
Twenty20 vs. United Cricketers of Baroda XI
40-Over Match vs. Bharuch District CA
40-Over Match vs. Sterling Generators
Return to Uganda
GUJARAT. Time, indeed, does tell the difference. From the immeasurable sights of sky-scrappers in the rocket-speed developing city of Doha, the cricketers found themselves two and a half hours behind Qatar and Uganda time in the traffic-mad city of Mumbai.
Whereas Qatar is on the verge of becoming a first-world nation, India, like Uganda are third world countries.
As the Cricket Cranes checked out of the ‘baggage claim area’ at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, an unwelcome stench of heavy air and a gallery of slums welcomed them amidst the gridlock.
The bumper-to-bumper scene out of the airport zone with every driver and rider fighting for every inch of space to step further onto the accelerator and steer clear of the mess.
Uganda find themselves in a similar situation where they cannot afford to step off the gas but must maintain momentum with a bumper schedule for their second leg of this build-up tour in India that could leave them fatigued, frustrated and fighting for breath.
Qatar is not India as Steve Tikolo’s boys have already noticed. From the high-end lifestyle of the people in Doha to the survival for the fittest livelihoods of the Gujarati people, the cricketers are already adapting to a vegetarian diet here from the meaty-laced ones they enjoyed in the gulf nation.
Seven competitive games against victory-hungry native franchises in just seven days under searing hot temperatures no-less than 30 degrees Celsius is no mean feat. It will require the Cricket Cranes to remain fit not just physically but also mentally with stress looming.
Throwing in the towel
But with a larger-than-life prize – a ticket on the final 14-man squad to the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League (WCL) Division IV showpiece in Malaysia this April – at stake, no player will be eager to show signs of throwing in the towel with two months to go.
Four players; Riazat Ali Shah, Bilal Hassun and Irfan Afridi, who couldn’t secure visas to India are already back home alongside injured top order batsman Lloyd Paternott.
But in their absence the team has been bolstered by a dynamic quartet led by Emmanuel Isaneez, young leftie Steven Wabwose plus two gifted India-born Ugandans Ronak Patel and Dinesh Nakrani, whose exploits were witnessed in the Jazz Safari National League and Rainbow Paints Night Cricket Tournament for the past three seasons.
In today’s opening Twenty20 matches, Tikolo will shuffle the squad to ensure each of his 16 players shakes off the jet-lag from Doha and five-hour road trip from the airport to the remote village of Chikhil, Gujarat where the team is based at the beautiful Shiv Venetian Sanjay Farm.
For a change, the team will play in whites on this tour – a donation made by host and philanthropist Swetal Desai.