19 April 2017

Uganda: Cricket Cranes Take On Kenya in Fourth Trial

When the Kenya Simbas walk onto the Lugogo cricket oval today, they will have their pride to protect. Following Kenya's 172/10 score in 37 overs, they could not eclipse Uganda's set score of 199/7 in 46.2 overs on Easter Monday at Lugogo.

This meant that the five-match series is locked at two wins for Uganda and a draw following the Sunday rains, that stopped game two, as Uganda started batting.

One more win for Uganda, and it will be a clean sweep.

Winning these series is exactly what the Cricket Cranes need as a psychological boost before the critical International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League Division Three (WCLD3) championship next month. Cricket Cranes coach Steve Tikolo cannot hide his pleasure over the direction his team is moving in.

"In game three, Kenya looked to be in a commanding position, seeing how well they were batting and piling on the runs," Tikolo said.

The pair of Dhiren Gondaria and Collins Obuya scored 55 and 50 runs respectively, taking Kenya to 137/4 in 25 overs. With 63 runs needed in as many overs, the home crowd had also resigned to the fact that this game was Kenya's to lose.

But Uganda's captain, Davis Arinaitwe and company (Deus Muhumuza, Franco Nsubuga and Irfan Afridi) dug deep and tore into Kenya's batting lineup like a wildcat that jumps into a chicken house.

It was chaos. One by one, Kenya's wickets fell uncharacteristically. But to Tikolo, it is the new character that his team is building: "I like it when we fight and never give up. The bowlers put pressure on Kenya. And if we continue doing it this way, we will become a much better team."

However, Tikolo added that there is still work to do. He pointed out that the positioning in the field has to improve with more tightness applied. This, he said, will ensure that they do not concede unnecessary runs like he has seen in the three games thus far. That is definitely a message that should resonate with debutant David Wabwire.

Although his first outing got off to a bang, when in his third ball he bowled out Kenya's Karan Kaul before he could even make a run, what ensued must have battered Wabwire's ego.

In the three overs he bowled, Wabwire had an economy rate of 12 runs. Kenya scored 36 runs off Wabwire's deliveries. This must have been shell shocking for Wabwire, who turns out for Challengers in the league.

So far, the youngster is ranked at number three on the list of best bowlers in the league, with 10 wickets claimed in 26.3 overs. He has an economy of 4.23 runs per over in the league. Monday's game must have been a big lesson for Wabwire.

But for Tikolo, there are bigger lessons for the entire team. He emphasized the need for his batsmen to collect more runs than they are at the moment. In their last game, Uganda's best batsmen were Arthur Kyobe, Emmanuel Isaneez and Hamu Kayondo with 31 runs each.

In the first game last Friday, Roger Mukasa got Uganda's most runs, 29. Tikolo is still concerned that no batsman has cranked up even half a century. That is disconcerting.

He wants his top order to aim at 80 runs each. Only then, will he be fully satisfied that there is progress. Otherwise, the good bowling cannot be relied on entirely.

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