At the back of the minds of the senior national team players, the clock is ticking fast to the ICC World Cricket League Division Four Championship.
That imminent showpiece comes April 28 - May 5 in Malaysia and each second counts for coach Steve Tikolo’s charges.
The Easter weekend will see his side physically and mentally away from their families as Team Uganda fine-tunes preparations for the Asia mission with a Bilateral Series against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The five-match Series begins today when Uganda faces the men from the Middle East in a T20 blitz at the University Oval in Kyambogo.
“Our target is to win here as we prepare for our next tournament in Kuwait,” captain Muhammad Afzal said, as his coach Liaquat Ali translated, at the Series’ launch in Lugogo yesterday. “The weather is quite pleasant and we believe we shall put up a challenge,” added Afzal.
Their Pakistan-born coach Ali played for Pakistan Islamic team from 1986-1988 and has coached in Saudi since.
“The Saudi tour gives us the opportunity to work on areas such as team strategy, plans and combinations and look to perfect them before Malaysia,” Tikolo told Daily Monitor following a lengthy selection meeting on Wednesday night. Key is how skipper Roger Mukasa consolidates the batting unit that comprises of experienced Hamu Kayondo and Shahzad Kamal as well as youngsters Simon Ssesaazi, Zephaniah Arinaitwe and Simon Ssesaazi.
There should also be a final toss of the coin between wicket-keepers Fred Achelam and Arthur Ziraba.
Spinners Irfan Afridi, Frank Nsubuga and Henry Ssenyondo will need company of seamers like the Waiswas Charles and Kenneth, Deus Muhumuza and Brian Masaba.
The East African nation last sat on a cricket table with the Saudis back at the Four-Nation Series in September, 2016. “I wish to state that they are a good team. I believe we are up and ready for the challenge at hand.” Tikolo recalled the previous meeting in Nairobi. “When we played them in Nairobi, they seemed a balanced side with a strong batting line up, two good opening bowlers and some good spinners. An area that they lacked a bit in was their fielding.
That might have changed since it’s about 19 months now since then. We just need to focus on our game, make sure we back ourselves and play good cricket.” Tikolo added.
SAUDI ARABIA TOUR OF UGANDA
BILATERAL SERIES ITINERARY
TODAY - MATCH 1 (T20- 2PM)
Uganda XI vs. Saudi Arabia XI
Game to be played at Kyambogo