Kampala — Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) and partners Cricket Uganda have spent nearly a fortnight rallying fans to attend the ICC Africa Men's Twenty20 Finals.
But owing to the experience picked from the country's strange bizarre show at the ICC World Cricket League Division Three tournament here two years ago, many a fanatic will descend to the Lugogo Oval for the tournament bowl-off with lots of caution and less optimism.
UCA, players and coaches of the Cricket Cranes have consistently promised a recovery from the 2017 slump by making the top two coveted positions at this week-long showpiece.
Now coach Steve Tikolo's charges must walk the talk when they cross the Lugogo oval ropefor the first time in front of their own faithful since then to face neighbours Kenya this afternoon.
In 2017, Uganda lost its opener to Canada by 66 runs and the country's candle never lit up again.
Hence skipper Roger Mukasa knows the magnitude of the duel that is akin to the Migingo island case or Elgon Cup rugby contest.
"A win here gives us the tone for the tournament," Mukasa told Sunday Monitor early this week.
"We want to have a very good start and then take it game and by game," said the top-order batsman.
From the 2017 unit, there are only eight survivors and the new faces are keen on making home advantage count.
"This is my first tournament in front of fans and I would love to give them something worthy," stated Riazat Ali Shah, the reigning Cricketer of the Year.
With Bilal Hassun and Irfan Afridi out, the expectations from Ali are high with ball especiallyin a bid to counter Kenya's strong batting unit.
"Kenya has strong batsmen and so we must field really well," noted Mukasa. Either experienced left-arm seamer Charles Waiswa or Ali with be handed the new white ball.
Veteran Frank Nsubuga and left-arm orthodox spinner Henry Ssenyondo are guaranteed four spin overs each while Deus Muhumuza's medium pace is awaited to challenge Kenya's top-order of Dhiren Gondaria, Irfan Karim, Alex Obanda and Rakep Patel.
Uganda's Achilles heel however remains with the bat. And Mukasa is obliged to quicklymentor the exuberant youngster Zephaniah Arinaitwe who could be thrown at the deep end to open the innings with Hamu Kayondo.
Dinesh Nakrani, Arnold Otwani and Ali must delay the lower order from wearing the batting pads if Uganda is to register fourth win against Kenya in eight T20 outings since 2011.
Before this match at Lugogo, tournament favourites Namibia will hope they display the mark of an ODI nation when they take on Botswana.
The word 'jollof' will find its way into the sledging as Nigeria starts it campaign against Ghana at the University Oval in Kyambogo.
UGANDA'S PROBABLE XI: Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Hamu Kayondo, Roger Mukasa (Captain), Dinesh Nakrani, Arnold Otwani, Riazat Ali, Fred Achelam (Wicket-keeper), Deus Muhumuza, Frank Nsubuga, Charles Waiswa, Henry Ssenyondo
UGANDA VS. KENYA
PREVIOUS T20 MEETINGS
2018 ICC EASTERN AFRICA QUALIFIER
July 14, 2018: Kenya 188/5 Uganda 189/3
(Uganda won by 7 wickets)
July 7, 2018: Uganda 240/3 Kenya 241/6
(Kenya won by 6 wickets)
2015 ICC AFRICA T20 DIVISION ONE
Mar 28, 2015: Uganda 81/10 Kenya 82/2
(Kenya won by 8 wickets)
2013 ICC AFRICA DIVISION ONE
Mar 1, 2013: Kenya 156/5 Uganda 137/10
(Kenya won by 19 runs)
Feb 23, 2013: Uganda 142/6 Kenya 112/7
(Uganda won by 30 runs)
2012 ICC GLOBAL QUALIFIER
Mar 20, 2012: Kenya 167/3 Uganda 119/8
(Kenya won by 48 runs)
2011 ICC AFRICA T20 DIVISION ONE
July 11, 2011: Uganda 177/0 Kenya 102/10
(Uganda won by 75 runs)