29 May 2017

Uganda: Irfan Century Keeps Uganda Believing

Kampala — Team Uganda retained slim hopes of progressing at the ICC World Cricket League (WCL) Division Three tournament after beating Malaysia by four wickets at Lugogo Oval on Saturday.

Having lost to Oman by six wickets at Kyambogo on Friday, the hosts faced a relegation scare.

But coach Steve Tikolo's side showed character, and fought to beat the men from Kuala Lumpur to move off the bottom of the six-team.

"It is good to see we have that fighting spirit in us," Tikolo stated. His team must beat USA in Entebbe today and hope Oman loses to Malaysia for the hosts to sneak to WCL Division Two.

Uganda's second win in four matches came on the back of Mohammed Irfan Afridi's match-winning century of 108* runs off 71 balls in front of a packed Lugogo.

"I feel happy and proud," Afridi told Daily Monitor shortly after picking his second tournament man-of-match diadem from ICC Regional Development Manager for Africa Patricia Pandarami.

"I thank my Allah and my parents. I also thank my coach (Tikolo) and captain for trusting me when they moved me up the order after I asked them."

"After losing to Oman, I was let down when I returned to the team camp at Hotel Africana. So I promised not to let them down again."

Carrying such an attitude, Afridi displayed specks of his uncle legendary Pakistani retired cricketer Shahid Afridi with the bat as he smashed the ball in an innings that will stick in memories of many.

"It's one of the few innings were I have seen someone bat the way he did. I remember it was when his uncle Shahid also played a similar knock against Sri Lanka (1996 in Nairobi) and it was very good to watch the way he went about it," Kenyan legend Tikolo said.

With the ball, Afridi was perhaps dissatisfied with two maidens and 1/34 as spinners Henry Ssenyondo (3/30) and Frank Nsubuga (4/43) restricted Malaysia to 189 thanks to Shafiq Sharif's half-ton of 58 off 55.

Centuries are those knocks that rarely come for batsmen in the Ugandan jersey. The last to score one was Nehal Bibodi who made 109 off 117 balls against Bermuda during the 9th Place Play-Off at ICC World Cup Qualifier on April 13, 2009 in South Africa.

But the East African nation received a timely one from Afridi after an early 32-3 wobble midway the 17th over. In at five, Afridi lowed the Required Run Rate with a quick fourth-wicket partnership of 36 runs off 29 balls with Arnold Otwani (24 off 50).

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