Uganda pulled off a stiff chase to upset top seeds and overwhelming favorites Namibia by six wickets in the final of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Africa Division 1 Twenty20 Championship played at Lugogo Cricket Ground in Kampala on Saturday.
Namibia had beaten Uganda twice in the round robin phase and its skipper Craig Williams won the toss and it was only logical for him to allow his batsmen to have a go at the Uganda bowlers.
A few lapses in the field and big hitting from Louis Petrus van der Westhuizen (52 off 30) and captain Craig Williams (27 off 30) helped Namibia reach 75 for 1 in 9.4 overs.
But Uganda’s captain Davis Arinaitwe Karashani showed rare guts and unbelievable skill as he rallied an unbelievable comeback.
The 24-year-old skipper snared two big wickets of Westhuizen and powerful Gerrie Snyman (12 off 10) in a brilliant four-over spell of 2 for 30. He later clung onto two magnificent catches in the deep to claim the prize scalps of Louis Klazinga (0 off 1) and Stephen Baard (14 off 11) as Namibia ran out of ammunition to blaze off the final overs.
Raymond van Schoor (15 off 13) remained unbeaten as Namibia reached 148 for 8 with Deus Muhumuza (3 for 26) starring with the ball.
Needing to score at 7.5 runs per over, the youthful openers Roger Mukasa Galiwango (42 off 31; 4x4 & 2x6) and left hander Arthur Kyobe ( 34 off 24; 2x4 & 2x6) waved their willows like magic wands to take Uganda to 82 for 1 in 8.2 overs.
From then, there was no way Uganda was going to step off the gas despite losing three quick wickets for 23 runs to crumble to 105 for 4. But new man in Frank Nsubuga (26 off 24; 1x4 & 3x6) stood and powerfully knocked the last nails in the Namibians’ coffin.
It was only fitting that the oldest man on the team Benjamin Musoke (19 off 18; 3x4) stroked the winning runs over square leg to send the full house into rapturous applause with 14 balls to spare.
After a full week of unconvincing displays with the bat, the Kenya players seemed to have saved the best for last as they shocked Nigeria by 23 runs in the third-place playoff at Lugogo oval.
Only just 24 hours ago, the Kenyans had folded meekly for a meagre score of 74 against Uganda.
Nigeria had beaten the Kenyan youngsters twice before the playoff and it was hard to blame its captain Endurance Ofem who stuck them in after winning the mandatory toss.
But Kenya’s top order led by wicket-keeper Irfan Karim (55 off 49; 3x4 1x6), son to former Kenyan captain Asif Karim, rose to the occasion. Duncan Allan got 15 off 20, Jignesh Hirani made 11 off 12 but it was Rahul Vishram (18 off 16) and Harrison Angila Ambani (27 off 7) that ensured the Kenyan bowlers had something to work with in the second innings as they raced to 162 for 5 wickets.
Save for Ramit Gill (2/32) no other bowlers made an impact.
The Nigeria openers Ademola Onikoyi (53 off 39) and Segun Olanyinka (18 off 22) looked in rhythm early on helping the West Africans race to 43 in 5.5 overs before the first wicket fell. But spin bowler Raj Savala (3/22) and Vinit Shikotra (2/19) applied the brakes in interval with regular wickets as Kenya held its own to nail the third place playoff.