BY INNOCENT NDAWULA
Uganda 240 runs for 3 wickets in 20 overs (Dinesh Nakrani 88 off 42, Riazat Ali Shah 74 off 35, Pushpak Kerai 1 for 30 in 3 overs) lost to Kenya 241 runs for 6 wickets in 19.3 overs (Dhiren Gondaria 90 off 46, Alex Obanda 35 off 17, Dinesh Nakrani 2 for 57 in 4 overs) by 4 wickets and three balls remaining
Man Of Match: Dhiren Gondaria (Kenya)
Gahanga Cricket Stadium was built and codenamed ‘field of dreams’ by the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation (RCSF) because its objective was to heal the wounds of the 1994 Genocide and give hope to the natives of the area.
But on the opening day of the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 Africa ‘B’ Qualifier, Uganda watched helplessly as their dreams to not only qualify among the top two nations but also win the championship suffer a dent as they went down by four wickets.
Kenya won the toss and stuck in the Ugandans who batted like godsends to race to 240 runs - a new record at the one-year old ground - to leave Shem Ngoche, the Kenya skipper, wondering whether he had made the right decision after earlier winning the toss.
But whatever Dinesh Nakrani (88 off 42) and Riazat Ali Shah (74 off 35) attained in their 167-run combo for the fourth wicket in 12.5 overs, the Kenyans, young Dhiren Gondaria in particular, showed little respect for it.
Gondaria was dropped twice and made the Ugandans pay with a match-winning innings of 90 runs that came off just 46 balls and sparkled with five boundaries and seven meaty sixes.
Alex Obanda (35 off 17) wasn’t too shy either with in the 75-run opening stand with six fours and one maximum whereas the quartet of Rakep Patel (31 off 20), Collins Obuya (29 off 12), Shem Ngoche(25* off 11) and Lucas Oluoch (15 off 12) offered the finishing touches off finesse to pull off a stiff chase and set a new ground record with three balls to spare - something that looked almost impossible at the first innings break.
Dinesh Nakrani claimed two wickets, albeit expensively at a cost of 57 runs in his four-over spell - proof of our how naive Uganda’s bowlers had been by not sticking to the right strategy.
The historic match, which is the first-ever ICC-sanctioned match at Gahanga International Cricket Stadium, yielded a mammoth 37 boundaries and 32 monstrous sixes.
It was that priceless! Money alone could buy you a ticket here. You had to be here to watch the memorable carnage and history unravel. After all, entrance is free for all games.
Uganda coach Steve Tikolo:
“This was a beautiful game of cricket. I am happy with the batsmen and hopefully we can carry the momentum going forward. For the bowling part, this game gives us a chance to go back and re-work our strategy on where to bowl for particular batsmen. I felt that we didn’t bowl to the agreed strategy. But overall it was a good game of cricket, pure entertainment for everyone.”
Kenya coach Maurice Odumbe:
“We came into this tournament as favourites and it was nice to see the reply my boys made after the Ugandans set 240. It was beautiful cricket and we know this contest against Uganda will be tougher in the second round. We have to take care of the potential banana skins in the next matches and see what happens. Also having been a teammate with Steve Tikolo for so many years, it was nice to get one-over him. But there is no love lost between us.”