By ALVIN BAGAYA
Born to Hiyadat Shah and Meger Nigar in Gilgit Pakistan; 513km from Islamabd; the capital of Gilgit-Balistan region on 20th February 1998, Riazat Ali Shah the 20 year old Ugandan all-rounder and toast of the occasion at World Twenty20 Africa ‘B’ qualifiers in Kigali has proven to the selectors that in him they finally have a weapon worthy of the battles of Associate cricket.
He has left his mark in Kualar Lumpur, Doha, Kigali and Kampala in an amazing year of Cricket where he has risen from the 16 year old promising talent to the sensational all-rounder taking on associate cricket with aplomb.
Another Match, Another Milestone, Ali Shah brings up his half ton against Kenya at Gahanga
On the 6th May 2018 at the UKM-YSD Bangi Oval in Kualar Lumpur, Riazat Ali Shah found the depth of his batting abilities tested, and was probably the birth of the confidence he now carries when pinging blowers all over the park.
Part of the eleven Uganda Cricket Cranes side that took on Jersey in the fifteenth and final Match of the Division 4 World Cricket League Qualifiers. This game was being replayed after Uganda failed to get a result the previous day by only two balls. It called for players to find the strength and determination to walk out again in a must win game.
He walked out in the 11th over to join Deus Muhumuza after EJB Miles had Frank Nsubuga caught by Peter Gough; Riazat faced the remaining three balls of the over without scoring.
Muhumuza was caught by Harrison Carlyon six balls later off Ben Stevens to leave Uganda reeling at 30/5 in 11.3 overs in a must win tie on the final day of the qualifiers.
This match then provided the first platform for Riazat to showcase the kind of fortitude he had in his arsenal.
A lot of the power hitting that Riazat Ali Shah displayed at Gahanga International Cricket Stadium over the ICC World Twenty20 Africa B Qualifiers is a big contrast on how he can adjust his game to fit battle at hand.
The Gritty Side of Riazat; 6th Wicket Partnership 60(114) from 30/5 at UKM-YSD Bangi Oval Kenneth Waiswa 34(63), Riazat Ali Shah 22(60):
A gritty affair against an unrelenting Jersey bowling attack; the consistency of Charles Perchard in tandem with the slow orthodox left arm spin of Ben Stevens, Nathaniel Watkins and Elliot Miles repudiating any attempt for Uganda to recover or get away.
Riazat on his innings against Jersey: “You will always feel pressure when you go in that situation and that game was very important for us but that day I was relaxed after facing the first over, I went to Deus and told him there is nothing in the pitch; he smiles and said “good luck “. I was confident because spinner was bowling from both ends. I played my early cricket in Pakistan so it’s easy for me to play spin.”
The fight back from both batsmen forced to curb their natural attacking instinct was the turning point of the match; Riazat Shah faced 54 balls of the partnership, didn’t score off 30 of those seeing off a Perchard Maiden in the process.
He managed only three boundaries and also key was from the doldrums of the early collapse and rebuilding, rotated strike with singles ten times off the balls faced.
Ali Shah celebrates a Jersey scalp with his mates in the tense final day of WCL3 at the UKM-YSD Bangi Oval
In the end, Uganda posted 90, the partnership contributing 67% of the runs, a 7 run win and promotion to Division 3.
Big Contrast: 778 runs off 454 balls at 170% in 3 tournaments.
Since Malaysia, Riazat has turned his strike rate round to match the biggest hitters of the ball in the region; he has piled on close to 800 runs in the Africa B Qualifiers (247(109), 285(118) in the KBSC Premier League night cricket, and 224(227) in the Jazz Safari National League.
Down and under, over and out of the park, "Rizu" clears deep mid-wicket against Zappy Bimenyimana of Rwanda
Riazat on his 2018 in cricket: “Cricket is a pressure game. I believe in giving more than 100 in the field and I don’t worry about the result. If there is great commitment on the field. That is victory for me."
Enjoying a fine vein of form at the start of his international career, he has already shown the ability to tone down and grind out the match winning scores as well as turn on the flair and attacking to take on the opposition.
A reliable middle order all-rounder; the hard long hours under the tutelage of Steve Tikolo has helped transform him from the 16 year old who stepped on the Lugogo Cricket Oval four years ago with potential to one of the budding Associate cricketers.
Man of Series Ali Shah at the ICC-WT20-Africa-B in Kigali, Rwanda
Early days yet, but the showing thus far is a conflux of greater numbers to come from Riazat Shah in bowling and batting if the regimen is maintained, akin to his homeland located at the confluence of Gilgit River and Hunza river.