By Norbert Abbi
With the dust having settled on the exciting preliminary round of the inaugural Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup, the business end of the short-code format promises more fireworks.
Having started out as 16 – eight apiece pooled into different pools – only eight teams remaining in contention for the glittering silverware and prize money at stake.
From a round-robin league format in the preliminary group phase, the tournament engages its knockout stage this Sunday (December 2).
One thing is certain. All games on card are assured crackers. Holders Challengers are still in the mix as well as last year’s finalists Kutchi Tigers. The organisers of the tournament have lined up all the quarterfinals duels on the same day at the University Oval in Kyambogo and Lugogo to provide a beautiful spectacle and carnival atmosphere.
Quarter Final 1, Lugogo: 9:30am - KICC Vs Strikers CC
For two sides so evenly matched, the first quarterfinal will surely make for an entertaining spectacle at the Lugogo Cricket Oval. By winning five games, losing one and sharing points in another, KICC put themselves in a position to finish first in Group A, ahead of Challengers who they tied with for points on 27 but had a higher Net Run Rate (NRR). This earned them an encounter with fourth placed Strikers in Group B with lost only twice and ended up with 25 points in a closely contested pool.
The winner of this encounter will book themselves a semifinal slot with the winner of the clash between Challengers and Kutchi Tigers.
Players to Watch:
KICC: Wassim Butt, Suleiman Sharif, Irfan (Afridi) Mohammed, Davis Karashani
Strikers CC: Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Frank Akankwasa, Rogers Olipa, Ivan Thawithemwira
Quarter Final 3, Lugogo: 3:00pm - Challengers CC Vs Kutchi Tigers CC
This fixture has all the markings of a thriller and is undoubtedly the biggest fixture of the last four stage with last year’s finalists taking center stage.
Challengers (27 points) who finished second in Group A face Group B’s third placed Kutchi Tigers (25 points) in what will be a carbon copy of last year’s final at the same venue, at the same time. Kutchi Tigers will be looking to avenge their loss in the final by knocking out the holders as they bid to become the first ever Unimoni National T20 Cup champions.
Players to Watch:
Challengers CC: Arthur Kyobe, Hamu Kayondo, Mohammed Aneef, Naseer Ahmad
Kutchi Tigers: Ankit Patel, Nanji Pindoriya, Dinesh Kumar Nakrani, Dhansuk Jesani
Quarter Final 2, Kyambogo: 9:30am - Ceylon Lions CC Vs Jinja SS CC
Group B table toppers Ceylon Lions (30 points) will play against fourth-placed Jinja SS (20) from Group A. A relatively easy fixture for the Lions considering the teams they had to stand up against in their table-topping run.
Ceylon Lions, already relegated to Division II in the Jazz Safari National 50-Over League, shocked the cricketing fraternity when they managed to defend a paltry 112 runs they set for the free-scoring Aziz Damani. Before the encounter, Damani had not lost to a side on ‘merit’ and the Lions managed a pull off a feat many have tried in vain.
Jinja SS, on the other side, have been riding on home advantage in their games since they have all been played across the Nile River. This fixture in Kyambogo will be their first away from home and they will have to adapt quickly with the pressures that come while playing on a grass-wicket that is unfamiliar to them.
Players to Watch:
Ceylon Lions CC: Varinder Singh, Simon Ssesazi, Ruwan Jayaratne, Jonathan Ssebanja
Jinja SS CC: Robinson Obuya, Derrick Bwire, Adbulhamid Suleiman, Pius Oloka
Quarter Final 4, Kyambogo: 3:00pm - Aziz Damani CC Vs Tornado Bees CC
The fourth and last quarterfinal of the day will be a hotly contested affair between Aziz Damani and Tornado Bees.
The monkey is on the latter’s back as they not won a game against the former this season.
Aziz Damani failed to mirror their performances in the longer format when they lost twice in the group stages. They surrendered a walkover against Avengers for fielding an unregistered player on the day and then fell in a heap while chasing down only 112 runs for victory against Ceylon Lions. These losses contributed to a second-place finish for them.
Their opponents Tornado Bees scrapped their way to the business bend of the annual showpiece. Jeremy Kibuukamusoke’s men rode on the early momentum they got after winning three games on the bounce enroute to finishing third in Group A with 22 points.
These two sides also have an interesting sideshow to their clash with both club managers Siva Koti (Aziz Damani) and William Kibuukamusoke (Tornado Bees) set to settle their scores.
Aziz Damani, more particularly, will however not be push overs as they continue their push of dominating all formats by winning the T20 Cup as well to add to their impressive finish to the 50-Over format.
Players to Watch
Aziz Damani CC: Saud Islam, Emmanuel Isaanez, Mir Afzaal, Javian McFarlane, Riazat Ali Shah
Tornado Bees CC: Roger Mukasa, Deus Muhumuza, Akbar Baig, Lawrence Ssematimba, Cyrus Kibuukamusoke