In a game that the Cricket Cranes needed to win, captain Davis Karashani went to the casino and cashed in all his chips. His gamble to send Irfan Afridi Mohamed up the order paid off as he blasted a match winning 108 off 65 balls.
Afridi entered when Uganda was 32 for 2 and at that point things looked very bleak for hosts as the other results were not going their way. With Canada dominating the USA at Kyambogo and Oman restricting Singapore to only 100 in Entebbe the Cricket Cranes needed a hero who they found in Afridi.
He picked up his second Man of the Match award that also gives him a chance to win the overall Player of the Tournament award.
The loss to Oman had left Uganda rooted at the bottom of the table and another loss to Malaysia was going to condemn them to the dreaded demotion to Division 4.
Uganda made a couple changes to their team giving Brian Masaba his first game of the tournament and Arnold Otwani coming in for the injured Charles Waiswa.
Uganda won the toss and decided to field first, a decision that was good given how Uganda went about their business in the field. Malaysia were either casual in their approach or Uganda was too tidy for them.
Brian Masaba was the meanest bowler giving away only 23 runs in his 10 overs for one wicket. Henry Ssenyondo finished with figures of 3/30 and Frank Nsubuga 4/43 dismissing Malaysia for 189 in 49 Overs.
In reply, Uganda lost Hamu Kayondo early in the chase trapped Lbw in the first over. Brian Masaba came in at 3 but he never got going, leaving Uganda railing at 11/2. Roger Mukasa and Arnold Otwani tried to get going but the former didn’t stay for long either as he was bowled.
Usually Shahzad Kamal would have walked in but this time the captain sent Afridi to try and up the rate and give the big crowd something to cheer. Afridi paid back the chance the captain took on him with big 6es. He rode his luck when he was dropped on 44 and 71 but he his saw the team home scoring his half century off 35 balls and his century off 65 balls.
Despite losing Shahzad and Lawrence in quick succession Afridi had already done enough damage to see Uganda over the line and he was there with the captain Davis Karashani. Afridi scored 108 not out with Davis unbeaten on 2, giving Uganda a 4 wicket win.
The win leaves Uganda with a mathematical chance of going through as one of the top 2 teams but that is if Oman or Canada can stutter on the last day of the round robin games.
At Kyambogo, Canada tightened their grip on top position with a 96 run win over USA. Canada scored 256/8 in their 50 overs with USA only managing 160 in reply. The loss means Canada stay top of the table with the USA hoping to beat Uganda in their last game with the other results going their way.
In Entebbe Oman made light work of Singapore beating them by 5 wickets. Singapore only set 100 all out which Oman chased in 24 overs for a loss of 5 wickets but importantly keeping their run rate very positive.
Tomorrow is a rest day for all teams with the final round robin games to be played on Monday before the final and placement games on Tuesday.
The Cricket Cranes can rest easy knowing that they still have a chance to gain promotion to Division 2.
The appreciated the big crowd that came to support and Afridi’s century is the first on Ugandan soil since Lawrence Ssematimba scored one against Namibia over 10 years ago.
Canada and Oman are 1st and 2nd in the table respectively with 3 wins each from their 4 games with Uganda in 3rd position needing a very big win to overtake Oman or Canada on Monday.