With a future as bright as their jersey, Aziz Damani has come guns blazing in their quest to dominate the Gentleman's game in Uganda. This fairly new club has become synonymous with success. And greeting victory like a familiar friend, the just concuded Twenty Twenty overs league, sponsored by Unimoni Powered By Xpress money saw them lift the winner's trophy yet again - just eight weeks after winning the Jazz Safari National Men's League.
Arguably the undisputed kings of cricket in 2018, this phenomenal team has shone as bright as their attire, if not brighter, in the just concluded Unimoni National T20 Cup tournament. But the champions didn't get off to a dream start, wrestling through their first loss - a walk over due to fielding an illegitimate fielder, the once unbeaten team and leaders of the 50 overs format, saw defeat for the first time this year.
While the 50 overs may have had some smooth sailing, the faster paced format tested Damani almost all season through from wide to narrow marginal wins. With a dramatic last over battle against one of the biggest contenders for the title, Kutchi Tigers that saw them win by the skin of their teeth with the Tigers needed 10 runs to win, Daman's Isaneez Emmanuel picked two wickets for five runs by innings' end - close shave if there was one.
Another tough nut to crack was the relentless Ceylon Lions, who had proven themselves the team to beat in their group in this T20 league - a sharp contrast to their 50 overs' league performance. The Lions were the only team to ever beat Aziz Damani, winning by eleven runs. Wounded but not out, Saud Islam and his charges diligently won every one of their remainimg games, determined to reach the top, and their hard work was rewarded with a closely contested quarter final slot that saw them leap over Strikers CC and Kutchi Tigers for a second place finish with a higher net run rate 2.44, the highest in their group and second in the entire league after KICC's 3.02.
With a seven wicket victory of Tornado Bees, Aziz Damani sealed their spot in the semi finals and with it, a second bite at the cherry against the Ceylon Lions. The Lions went all out beefing up their already deadly arsenal with Kenyan internationals Alex Obanda and Lucas Oluoch, but Damani came to the party with Mir Afzal, Javian Mcfarlene, Pervaiz Ali, Swaroop Kumar and Harsha Vanrdhan together with the already star studded side with all rounders Riazat Ali Shah, Isaneez Emmanuel, Saud Islam, Kenneth Waiswa, Bilal Hassun, Brian Masaba and specialist bowlers Henry Ssenyondo and Charles Waiswa, ensuring sweet victory in one of their toughest games of the season.
It was a literal fight to the finish that had Ceylon leading up until the 19th over before the winds changed sides with a maximum and boundary bringing the score down from over 20 runs needed in an over to just 13. But fighting until the last ball, they pulled off yet another terrific feat that the Tigers knew only too well, to win by two wickets.
Damani waltzed through to the finals in a game that was clearly in the hands lf their opponents, a scenario repeated even as they faced the unbeaten KICC in a game that had KICC leading in the chase up until the 15th over before the tide changed with the eigth wicket falling and win by 31 runs with 11 balls to spare.
At the prize giving ceremony Nazeem Khan Country Head of Unimoni Uganda said
"The fierce battle between the cricket clubs to lift the championship not only made the tournament exciting to watch but also showed the countries untapped talent. Cricket is one of the widely followed sports in Uganda and the tournament gave us an opportunity to connect and engage with our customers outside of business parameters through the much loved sport"
Unimoni previously known as UAE Exchange in Africa have a long history of promoting cricket and other games around the world and the brand was the title sponsor for the recently concluded Asia Cup 2018.
The sky is only the limit for Aziz Damani, who have single handedly dominated the gentleman's sport, it can only be upwards from here for now, we'll stand up for the champions, yet again.