Uganda's start to the Pepsi ICC Africa Region Division One T20 tournament over the weekend was resounding.
Two wins in two games is simply what the doctor had prescribed. However, Uganda's 30 run win over Kenya in the opener is an indication it will take a major collapse to stop the hosts, writes John Vianney Nismbe.
Being that Kenya is more highly ranked than Uganda in cricket, this clash was viewed as a real title contest although Uganda made light work of Kenya. Uganda's batsmen showed an element of ruthlessness from the word go, which was indeed a statement of intent. "We don't want to take anything for granted. So, we had to start the tournament with seriousness," said Deus Muhumuza, a player on the team.
However, Muhumuza avoided being dragged into the argument that since they beat Kenya no other team in the tournament would keep up with them. "I don't think this tournament's opposition is weak. I believe it is a case of team Uganda being much improved and serious about what we have to do and achieve."
In Muhumuza's view, this tournament is very timely because it is going to help them work out several batting combinations for future engagements. Because of the nature of T20 cricket and the fact that it is quick and go, Muhumuza says it encourages quick thinking and timing. The longer you take to apply yourself, the less runs you will collect, yet the overs are quite few.
This actually showed in the game between Nigeria and Uganda. The West African side only posted a paltry 86 runs, which was very easy to chase. Uganda did it in 11 overs for a loss of four wickets only. Hardly anyone saw this as a surprise, as the gulf in class was clearly evident. Teams like Nigeria, Botswana and Tanzania are where Uganda was a few years ago.
They need to improve their batting to get to the level of even trying to spring a surprise of upsetting Uganda. Team Captain Davis Arinaitwe said after the day one action that there seems to be a general consensus that Uganda and Kenya are the best teams but in beating them on the opening day, it has a psychological advantage for his team.
Nicholas Kebba, a player with Tornado 'B' says he doesn't see this tournament heading anywhere other than in the favour of Uganda. If that comes to pass as per his prediction, it will boost the team's confidence and collegiality, which is crucial if a winning mentality is to be harnessed.