BY INNOCENT NDAWULA
ICC CWC CHALLENGE LEAGUE B
Fixtures - December 5 (9am)
Uganda vs. Kenya, OC Turf 2
Hong Kong vs. Jersey, OC Turf 1
Fixtures - December 6 (9am)
Uganda vs. Bermuda, OC Turf 1
Italy vs. Jersey, OC Turf 1
TABLE STANDINGS (ROUND ONE)
TEAM M W L PTS NRR
Uganda 1 1 0 2 0.500
Italy 1 1 0 2 0.289
H.Kong 1 1 0 2 0.139
Bermuda 1 0 1 0 -0.139
Kenya 1 0 1 0 -0.289
Jersey 1 0 1 0 -0.500
Derbies don’t get bigger than Uganda versus Kenya in cricket, if you’re African and more so an East African. Be it either low-scoring or runs-laden, the Migingo Derby is not one of cheap thrills. Every ball is a moment, one glance away could prove so costly. The Cricket Cranes and Kenya Simbas renew their hostilities at the ongoing International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B showpiece in Oman tomorrow (Thursday, December 5) with nothing, as has been the norm, but victory on each of the teams’ minds.
The ultimate battle of wits, skill and temperament always brings the best out of the players and it’s a prayer for many a fan in Uganda that the Cranes nick this rubber every time it pops up on schedule at whatever meet. The undisputed ‘Big Brothers’ Kenya, however, boast of the clash’s bragging rights. With a rich history of having played in five ICC World Cups, Kenya have always bossed this derby leaving Uganda to celebrate one-off victories in purposeless dead rubbers.
But Uganda ought to believe that the days of Kenya’s stranglehold over them could be in their evening. Kenya have endured tough political times back and are cash-strapped as their funding taps have been locked by the authorities until they sort out the impasse within the top hierarchy of the game’s management in their own backyard. And after going down to Italy by four-wickets in the opening game of this three-legged showpiece, Kenya need points to stay in contention for a spot at the 2023 World Cup in India.
Having walked into the recent T20 World Cup Qualifier as favourites, the Simbas didn’t roar and the fallout of their disastrous campaign has led to the axing of Nelson ‘Mandela’ Odhiambo, Elijah Asoyo Otieno, and Alex Auma Obanda.
Roped into the side is 46-year-old military-medium opening bowler Lameck Onyango, whose return was less than welcomed by the Kenyan fraternity who have gone on to express their dismay to the Tariq Iqbal-led selection committee on social media pages. Left-hander Rushab Patel returns to big stage, Nairobi’s runs-machine Naman Patel justifiably earned the nod of the selectors and 37-year-old left-arm slow bowler Jadavji Bhimji aka Malindi made the cut.
Kenya's problems aside, they will be buoyed by the fact that Uganda know how to press self-destruct button. In Oman last year (by four wickets) and recently in Kampala (by one run), Kenya took away victory from Uganda like candy from a baby.
And at both occasions, it seemed like Uganda would carry the day, but the Cricket Cranes connived to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Waiswa on the sidelines
And Uganda must now cross the finish line without the services of experienced 31-year-old Charles Waiswa, who injured his lower back while fielding in the deep trying to stop a boundary-bound ball in the opening clash against Jersey. The left-arm opening bowler landed awkwardly on his right knee, forthwith impacting a lot of weight on his lower body as he threw the ball back to the bowler while off balance. Waiswa lay down in untold pain and was later stretchered off to NMC Hospital in Al Khuwair.
“The doctor said it was nothing serious besides a twitch. He asked us to rest Waiswa for three days before going back for a final review,” Team Manager Jackson Kavuma disclosed to Cricket Uganda website.
For Waiswa, he cannot wait to get back in the mix.
“I am feeling much better. The doctor gave me a tynor lower back support strap and its worked some magic. I cannot wait to get back on the oval for the next game against Bermuda,” said Waiswa.
Chance for the youth
But Uganda captain Brian Masaba says the team morale remains high with either one or two of youngsters Kenneth Waiswa, Richard Agamire and Fred Achelam set to make their tournament bow in the Migingo Derby.
“This is a familiar rivalry and we know each other too well,” said Masaba. “Our recent one-run loss to them in the Africa T20 Finals in Kampala earlier this year remains a painful memory. But that’s in the past, we are not thinking too much about it as our focus is on the game at hand. If we execute our game plans, the day will be ours.”
For his opposite number Irfan Karim of Kenya it will be all about keeping the faith as the Simba Lions look to get off the mark.
“We acclimatised well for this tournament with three warm up matches against UAE XI in Dubai to get our combinations right before flying over here. My boys need no motivation against Uganda. They are anxious to perform,” said Karim.
On the opposite oval, Uganda’s victims in the opener Jersey entertain Hong Kong on Turf 1 looking to re-ignite their campaign against a side that chased down a mammoth 291 with five balls to spare against Bermuda on Tuesday.
ABOUT THE ICC MEN’S CWC CHALLENGE LEAGUES
The ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Challenge Leagues are a two and year half competition involving 12 teams that are three steps away from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023.
There are two Challenge Leagues A and B, each comprising six teams that will play 15 matches each over two years. Canada, Denmark, Malaysia, Singapore, Qatar and Vanuatu form group A, whilst group B consists of Bermuda, Hong Kong, Italy, Jersey, Kenya and Uganda.
The top team in each league at the culmination of the competition will secure two of the six places in the Men’s Cricket World Cup Qualifier Play-Off to be held in 2022, alongside the bottom four of Men’s CWC League 2. The top two teams from the Play-Off will keep their hopes alive of participating in India 2023.
The Challenge Leagues will be played once a calendar year, totaling three League A events and three League B events respectively from 2019-2021. They will run concurrently with the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup League 2 and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League which has a start date of May 2020.
The hashtag for the competition is #RoadToCWC23.