Tikolo confident after Tanzania’s dramatic entry into Regional Qualifier

The Tanzania Men’s Senior Cricket Team became the latest and final addition to the ICC Men’s Africa T20 Regional Final Qualifier and Head Coach Steve Tikolo couldn’t be prouder of his troops in his first outing. Rightfully so, because while their female counterparts have previously established their dominance in the region, the men have been tucked in the backburner.

“This is the first silverware in Tanzania’s Cricket history and everyone is buzzing with excitement.  The boys have played good cricket in the first round and deserve all the accolades. We also learnt a lot as we move to the next round so, we’ll keep pushing them for a better performance,” Tikolo told kenya-cricket.com.

This was Tanzania’s second attempt at representing the region in the ICC Men’s T20 Global Qualifier after coming in third at the last sub Regional event held in Kigali, Rwanda in July, 2018. Kenya and Uganda progressed to the Regional Final which was won by Namibia who qualified alongside runners-up – Kenya in a rain affected affair in Kampala, Uganda in May 2019.

Tanzania emerged as the top side in the Sub Regional Africa Qualifier Group B tournament after winning all their matches – against Botswana, Cameroon, Mozambique and Sierra Leone. The clincher against the Joseph Angara – led Bostwana on 8th November happened to be a final of sorts that produced a last ball thriller with Tanzania getting over the line by three runs, defending 143 runs.

With 21 runs required off the last over, Jitin Singh pulled off an incredible bowling display, the six legal deliveries swaying in the possibility of all three results, a maximum, a boundary and a no – ball that went for two runs, therein. Even the final ball of the innings could have been a dismissal if Ally Kimote had not held on to a catch off a free hit on the ropes, with five runs required to win and four to equalize and produce the first Super Over of the competition.

Tanzania’s all – round gradual improvement was in full display in their five match clean sheet at the tournament, a culmination of nearly two years of the work the ex – Kenya Cricket international has put in. The first professional Cricket Coach for the side, Tikolo is happy with the new drive that has come about also with the event of a new office.

“The good thing is that we have built a good culture in the team. The players are keen on executing the plans and strategies that the coach has put in place. If we continue working on the basics of the game and the processes we have put in place as a team, we should be able to climb the ladder of international Cricket,” he states.

Tikolo is optimistic of his chances against Kenya and Group A winners –  Uganda, both of whom he has coached in the same capacity alongside Nigeria when the four teams meet in the Regional Qualifier that bowls off the tournament activities in a couple of days. The tournament playing dates will be 17th – 20th November, Tanzania facing Nigeria and later Kenya on the opening day of their campaign.

Despite being ranked the lowest of the four participants (44), the tournament will be a great measure of strength for the East Africans who are yet to kick off their Cricket World Cup Challenge League campaign due to postponements occasioned by the Covid 19 Pandemic. Uganda have since snuck past Kenya (29) after taking part in the Group A sub Regional contest to rank 28th while the West Africans are ranked 36th.

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