Friday, September 17
Kenya 114/8 (20/20 ov)
*Uganda win by 6 runs
Uganda Cricket Cranes beat Kenya to win a thrilling Pearl of Africa T20 Series at Entebbe Cricket Oval.
The Cranes, under Lawrence Mahatlane, won a thrilling final by six runs in what looked like sweet revenge for their one-run loss inflicted by Kenya back in 2019 at Lugogo.
Winning the series that also had Nigeria as the third participant will come as a big motivation for Uganda who are preparing to take part in the Africa T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Rwanda later on.
Uganda Cricket Association will take much credit for organising the tournament on short notice that spanned over a week amidst a pandemic.
“It has been challenging to live in the bubble for these teams but Cricket has won at the end of the day,” said Uganda Cricket Association Chairman Michael Nuwagaba.
“This will go down on our calendar, and next yeat it will be more competitive.”
Nuwagaba also commended sponsors Dafabet, Roketelkom, Pepsi (Nivana) and Uganda Airlines among others.
There were some misfields Mahatlane will look to rectify highlighted by two crucial dropped catches but the gaffer will focus on positives going into the Qualifiers in Rwanda.
Captain Brian Masaba’s injury remains a major headache but Deus Muhumuza showed glimpses of a capable leader.
Simon Ssesazi has had a good series while Bilal Hassan, Dinesh Nakrani and Frank Akankwasa picked two wickets each in the final.
Cricket Cranes Squeeze Past Wobbling Kenya
After winning the toss, captain Deus Muhumuza fancied his team’s chance to set the total.
Opener Saudi Islam gave away his wicket in the second ball of the sixth over with 26 runs off 25 balls before he was followed by Simon Ssesazi who was bowled by Shem Ngoche to leave Uganda at 75/2.
From 75/2, the team failed to find stability on the crease and collapsed to 86/5 before setting a lowly 120 for the fall of nine wickets.
It was not a convincing batting show thanks to Kenya’s Elijah Asoyo 3-18 who made sure that Uganda is kept within sight.
Despite early struggles, Uganda flourished with the ball.
Gurdeep Bhagat (44/43) looked to have cleared a big chuck before he was bowled by Frank Akankwasa in a successful ninth over that also sent Nehemiah Ngoche (8) for early showers.
Captain Shem Ngoche was at the wrong end of poor communication when he was was ran out in the 16th over to leave Kenya at 98/4 as Uganda took control of the game, but the visitors tried to hang in there.
Needing 13 runs in the last two overs, Kenya suffered a blow when Nelson Odhiambo retired hurt in the penultimate over Dinesh Nakrani gave away one run and picked Eugene Ochieng wicket.
Kenya needed 12 in the last over. It was going to the wire. Surely. Bilal Hassan was given the honour to drive Uganda home in the last over.
Alex Obanda at the striker’s end was limping and Kenya could only fancy hard hitting at this stage.
First ball to Obanda, zero. Second ball, beaten for a boundary.
Kenya needed eight in the last four. Bilal regained his calm as he picked dots in third and fourth deliveries.
Kenya need eight in the last two. Bilal on the attack, Obanda squeezes a run. Seven needed in the last ball. A miracle?
Bilal sealed it with a direct hit to break Elihah Asoyo’s baits in the last delivery.