When Challengers Cricket Club won the National T20 Cricket championship in April, just a fortnight before the National 50 overs League started, there was a feeling of freshness that their triumph brought to the Cricket spectrum in the land.
Challengers had defied odds and beaten all the perennial giants like Wanderers and Tornado to the trophy. And the presumption was that they would carry on this sublime form into the league, at least Arthur Kyobe, one of their crown acquisitions from Tornado cricket club, seemed to suggest.
Kyobe, the nation’s opening batsman and best batsman in the league last year, will be renewing acquaintances with his former teammates, Tornado this weekend, well aware that Challengers are in a dangerous spot being second from bottom on the log, and will need to rekindle their T20 form and replicate it in the league.
With seven points garnered in four games, twenty behind the league leaders Tornado ‘Bees’, Challengers have really fired blanks as their three losses in four games indicate. Challengers’ opening weekend 300 runs haul over Wanderers is such a long time ago.
And on the balance of play, Tornado, who lie third on the log with four wins in five, Challengers have a real mountain to climb. Tornado managed to register a hard earned win in Jinja last Sunday 2159 in 50 overs to 21210 over Rounders in 49 overs. And with that consistency, Challengers have reason to worry.
Not Kyobe, though. “It is going to be the same old cricket. But we haven’t played any good cricket in the league and we need to come to the party now. Of course we go into the Tornado game on the back of losses and that never gives anyone confidence. But nothing beats teamwork and I believe we can find our winning touch again starting with Tornado,” said Kyobe.
Essentially, no one can push through a win as much as Kyobe can. For the last one year, his form on the crease has been close to impeccable with a good return of runs. Apart from Rounders’ Narinder Singh, who has scored 235 runs in six games, and hence leads the highest run-getter chart, Kyobe is close by with 224 runs in four games.
With an average of 56 runs per game, Kyobe has done well. But he needs the support cast to step up. Apart from another teammate of his Mohammed Shafeek, who has scored 104 runs in four games, his average of 26 runs that has placed him as Challengers’ second top run-getter shows how dangerously Challengers is living.
Worse still, another of Challengers’ marquee signings, Arnold Otwani, is yet to prove his worth having scored only 57 runs in four games. Together with Mohammed Aneef (55 runs in four games) and Ivan Thawithemwira (68 runs in four games), Challengers has so many under-performers from whom a top performance is long overdue considering the talents they have as batsmen.
That said, Challengers will also have to come up with a plan to stop the experienced heads in Tornado’s ranks. Benjamin Musoke, Davis Turinawe and Frank Nsubuga aren’t that kind to give away much especially when they sense fallibility in an opponent.
Instead, Tornado go for the kill regardless of the sentimentalism that will emerge when they meet Kyobe their former team-mate because that is what Tornado live for as a hinge to their unprecedented success over the years.
Source : The Observer