KAMPALA. Aziz Damani Cricket Club have been at the forefront of every conversation concerning the Jazz Safari National Cricket League this year.
Their dominance justified now by nine wins in nine matches has gripped the notes of pundits and analysts since Day One.
The title holders Damani could even afford a victory party at White Sands Beach in Entebbe after beating KICC by six wickets last Sunday.
They top the eight-team table with 54 points, 18 more than second-placed Kutchi Tigers. Challengers is third with six wins from 10 matches for a tally of 35 points.
Skipper Ghulam Hunzai managed to mock his Challengers’ opposite Hamu Kayondo with the latter only requiring a mathematical chance to win the title.
Damani’s run is a tale of two stories. Their players, club boss Siva Koti and fans are enjoying every bit of it as only five matches stand between them and a record of an unbeaten season.
On the other hand, the rest of league and some neutrals (to be honest) lie on the edge of some sort of sporting dictatorship or rather call it boredom by Aziz Damani’s exhibition of unmatchable power.
Hungry as ever
That state of ‘discomfort’ for the many echoes Tornado Bee’s beats from 2014-2016. Koti says “they want to win five titles in a row” which is something no club has done in history.
And going by their noticeable surge, Challengers has literally been handed the duty by the rest to stop Damani at lakeside oval in Entebbe today. “What else do we have to do?” Challengers’ opening batsman Arthur Kyobe said. “We have to win (to bring back life to the league).”
On paper, Challengers is must believe as was the case in previous seasons like 2016 when they finished second in the league and won the Twenty20 title.
Their top-order comprising Kyobe, Kayondo, Steven Wabwose, Mohammed Aneef and Shahzad Kamal must come to the party and deliver the goods. There is nowhere to hide!
Now they know they have to do the job in a smarter way to stop the grinding Damani monster.
“We are batting with responsibility at the top in all the games. So if we bat the way we have done before especially Kayondo and I, then blood may spill. One of us has to go really big,” said Kyobe, who is second on the batting charts with 376 runs, while giving a hint on his team’s game plan. Kayondo has 372 runs.
Damani’s bowling unit now charged by firing paceman Emmanuel Isaneez, oiled by silent yet deadly left-arm orthodox Henry Ssenyondo, an even quieter Brian Masaba and guidance from veteran coach-player Steve Tikolo, Kyobe and company have more than the ‘tricky’ Entebbe wicket to worry about.
Leading batsman is Damani’s Saud Islam on 394 runs in nine matches but David Wabwire, Naseer Ahmad and Aneef who have a combined 50 wickets will be itching to wreak havoc.
A highlights-filled encounter is on cards on a day the teams will wear black arm bands to pay their respects to fallen batting maestro Yona Namawa Wapakabhulo, who died on Monday.