Cricket. The local clubs have broken the banks. A foreign legion comprising players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Kenya and Zimbabwe is here in Kampala for the National T20 Cup crucial bend at Lugogo and Kyambogo
Aziz Damani’s 100 percent record enroute to the Jazz Safari National League crown earlier this year certainly did not go down well with the rest of the clubs.
Sport hates dominance. With Damani up the throats of many having won the men and women’s limited-overs’ titles plus the Mehta Twenty20 Premier League, a rare sweep beckons.
That’s if they win the Unimoni National Twenty20 Cup which is at the quarterfinal stage now.
However, with the overwhelming yet unusual deployment of foreign stars by other teams, Damani will have their work cut out.
The league champions Damani face a bitter rival in Tornado Bee at the University Oval in Kyambogo this afternoon in a familiar T20 quarterfinal. Specks of bother about Damani come with their record that has seen them play a final and two semi-finals in the last three editions.
“Our goal is to first get into the final then we take it from there,” Damani’s vice captain Brian Masaba stated. “Tornado Bee is hurting and they can be a dangerous side so we are not taking anything for granted.”
Damani has Jamaican Javian McFarlane available but Tornado Bee has recalled Kenyan old guards Obuya brothers Collins and David to back up Roger Mukasa, Deus Muhumuza and Australian Mitch Horrocks among others. “T20 has not been our hunting ground over the years. But there is a chance to fight for silverware this season,” said Tornado Bee captain Jeremy Kibuukamusoke. “We have lost a bit of our thunder but the team with the most perfect strategy on the day will win,” he added.
Over the years, no side has executed better T20 strategies than holders Challengers who are on course to make a three-peat and four title in five years. Having finished second in Group A behind KICC, they now face stubborn Kutchi Tigers at Lugogo this afternoon.
Short code exponents
And they are not taking any chances. Club proprietor Mohammed Vaheed has brought in experienced Zimbabwean ODI players in captain Hamilton Masakadza and Timycen Maruma.
Also, Indian Abdulahad Malik of India Premier League (IPL) franchise Rasthajan Royals is here. “We are going for a treble implying a bigger task on our hands and we have great inclusions,” opening batsman Arthur Kyobe disclosed.
Kyobe is set to open with Hamu Kayondo. Malik, who boasts of the highest ever fourth wicket partnership (202*) with Manpreet Juneja will bat at three and Masakadza is expected to walk in at four. Tigers’ captain Alphesh Hirani remained tight-lipped but they have quietly brought in India-born Kenyans and retain a livewire in Dinesh Nakrani and 2015 winning captain Ankit Patel in their ranks.
The foreign legion doesn’t stop because after topping Group B, Ceylon Lions are now interested in the silverware and have brought in a Sri Lankan and Kenyan Alex Obanda to face Jinja SSS at Kyambogo this morning. In Lugogo, two-time finalists KICC are banking on high-flying batsmen Wassim Butt and Suleman Sharif when they meet explosive and brave youngsters of Strikers.