Aziz Damani 228/10 in 48.1 overs Daudi Rajani 113(122), Henry Ssenyondo 34(37) Richard Agamiire 3/27 beat Strikers 158/10 37 overs Rogers Olipa 43(32), Richard Agamiire 26(38) Henry Senyondo 5/35 in 9 overs by 70 runs
Man of Match: Henry Ssenyondo 5/35 in 9 overs, 34(37)
The mark of a champion is that even when you don't play to your best you can 'somehow' find your way to victory.
Aziz Damani, the defending champions of Division One, managed to hold off topflight newcomers Strikers for relief marginal win of 71 runs.
However, the match summary does not tell the full story as Siva Koti's men were threatened by both an afternoon downpour and a very determined effort from teenager-packed Strikers side.
Strikers, one of the two teams promoted to the top tier last season, gave the defending champions a run for their monies in the game played at the University Oval in Kyambogo.
Damani won the toss and chose to bat but Strikers quickly made inroads with Richard Agamire sending Emmanuel Hasahya and Saud Islam back for quick showers.
Opening batsman Daud Rajani was a villain as two of his teammates Brian Masaba and Kenneth Waiswa were run out courtesy of some magical glovework from part timer Zephaniah Arinaitwe and when Rogers Olipa took a stunning front dive catch in the deep to dismiss legendary national coach Steve Tikolo, Damani was in a spot of bother and reeling at 70 for 5.
Strikers had their tails up and wagging with Damani captain Ghulam Hunzai not bothering the scorers, the Damani innings were nearly wrapped up even before lunch until new signing Henry Ssenyondo joined Rajani in the middle.
The pair put on a 104-run partnership for the eighth-wicket that truly decided the game. Ssenyondo batted with purposely with Rajani with the latter scoring the first century of the 2018 season. He fell for finally a 113 runs which helped Damani finish on 228 all out in 48 overs.
Quick runs & dark clouds
Strikers came out of the blocks quick. Zephaniah Arinaitwe, particularly, was a livewire taking the attack to the Damani opening bowlers: paceman Kenneth Waiswa and left-arm orthodox spinner Henry Ssenyondo. While they plundered quick runs, dark clouds started hovering over Kyambogo.
Damani were in a state of bother as they had to bowl 20 overs quickly so that they could avoid a shared spoils encounter and have DLS into play.
Arinaitwe had put Damani on the back foot with his attacking stroke play. But if you live by the sword, you are most likely to die in a predictable manner.
He went for one too many and was caught in the deep off the bowling of Ssenyondo, who took charge thereafter to prove why Damani forked out alot of money to prize him away from Challengers.
He finished with impeccable match figures of 5 for 23, claiming all the prized Strikers' wickets.
Only a 53-run eighth wicket partnership between U-19 internationals Olipa (43) and Agamire (26) delayed the obvious till after the second break after which Strikers lost three wickets for eight runs to wrap up the win for Damani.
Strikers might have lost but they are a very good side, the mix of youth is very exciting as much is it's a distraction.
As they drove away from Kyambogo, Aziz Damani cut postures of relief and now know that defending the league title might be harder than when they won it in the first season.