Kenya is the godfather of cricket in the region in that they have played in the semi-final of a World Cup in 2003, but the generation responsible for that success is long gone.
Steve Tikolo, one of the golden boys of that generation, is now the coach for the Cricket Cranes, while Martin Suji is the technical director for Rwanda Cricket and others are in other administrative roles. In saying this, a certain Lameck Onyango, even at 46, is opening bowling for the Simbas.
Against this background and even with changing times Kenya feels they should never lose to any of its neighbours, and true to that analogy none of the neighbours has raised the bar yet. Kenya has not set a very high standard with its current generation – they were not successful at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in the UAE and they lost their ODI Status a couple years back – though their form speaks about the quality of the game in the region.
The last time these two teams met in a one day game, Nelson Odhiambo frustrated the Cricket Cranes with a match winning knock at the Div 3 WCL in 2018 in Oman. Early this year the same teams met in Kampala at the T20 World Cup Qualifiers and the Simbas inflicted a painful 1-run loss on Uganda to break the hearts of a big crowd in Lugogo.
Kenya even at its lowest somehow knows how to raise its game against Uganda, and Uganda has never come out on top in the East Africa in a competitive tournament but this time Uganda is very close. The gap between the two rivals is very small and for the 1st time the derby is open for either side.
Uganda is the more confident side after picking up a 25-run win over Jersey on the 1st day of the tournament. Dinesh Nakrani the star the show for the Cricket Cranes supported by the Captain Brian Masaba and Shahzad Ukani as Uganda was able to bat out its allocated overs. The spinning duo of Frank Nsubuga and Henry Ssenyondo were very blunt in that game, with the medium pacers doing the business who possess headaches for the technical committee, on whether to use two spinners is a necessity. Left arm medium pace Charles Waiswa is ruled out after picking up an injury during the win against Jersey, and this means youngster Richard Agamire will get his opportunity to star in the desert.
For Kenya apart from Irfan Karim who had 71 in the loss to Italy the other batsmen were AWOL in the game. The ever reliable Collins Obuya did trouble the Italians but he has been a chief heart breaker for the Cricket Cranes in recent battles. In the 1-run loss in Kampala, Rakep Patel showed his class with some amazing hitting and together with Dhiren Gondaria, they are the batsmen Uganda needs to keep quiet.
From the recent battles the team that bats best has won the game and therefore runs will win Thursday’s game. A win for Uganda would mean they get their tails up with a second win but Kenya will be desperate to win so that they can stay in touch with other teams. Kenya in their position must be happy that after the loss to Italy their next game was against a side that has not defeated in an ICC competitive game. Uganda will be playing against history and there is no better time to rewrite that history.
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