Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Kenya Vs. Holland Intercontinental Cup Preview

Namibia drew with Nepal to qualify for the league stage of the Intercontinental Cup last weekend, but the competition proper gets underway today when Kenya and Holland meet at Nairobi Gymkhana. On paper, Kenya are probably the favourites to take the match. They are at home, and have greater experience in the First Class arena. In Steve Tikolo, they also have arguably the most dangerous batsman in the competition. Tikolo averages over 50 with the bat in First Class, but Holland also have a star batsman in van Troost, and debutant Tim de Leede comes off the back of an ODI Century against Kenya 'A'.
For those wondering why there is a smell of roasting pork on the morning air, my predictions for the team didn't quite get there, and that comet that you thought you saw tracing across the sky was actually a pig going down in flames. Kenya are apparently going to go with the following as their starting line up:
S Tikolo (capt.), T Odoyo(v.c), M Ouma (wkt), B Patel, H Modi, A Suji, T Mishra, C Obuya, A Karia, P Ongondo, R Bhudia.
All the best to the boys, let's hope they repay the selectors with good performances, especially at the top of the order.
According to the selectors, this is the best team Kenya can put on the park. Holland unfortunately, will not be able to say the same. Injury and bereavement mean that they are going to be without a couple of key players, and that could make all the difference. Dutch coach, Peter Cantrell has accordingly delayed naming the final team until the last minute to make doubly sure who he has available.
Key battles that will decide the outcome will be between the Dutch bowlers, led by Edgar Schiferli who are probably a stronger unit than their Kenyan counterparts at the moment, and the likes of Tikolo, Modi and Mishra. In the absence of Otieno, these will be the players Kenya will be counting on to get the bulk of the runs. To my mind, Patel and Ouma are there to see off the opening bowlers. Any runs they get will be an unexpected bonus. In the Dutch innings, it will be up to Odoyo and Ongondo to make the break through. Of the Dutch top order, only de Leede and de Grooth worried Kenya 'A', but they did so in a match winning fashion. Holland's top order have struggled in South Africa, and it is up to Kenya's strike bowlers to make sure they do so again.
On current form, it is a difficult match to pick. I am going to go with my heart, and say Kenya. Partly because if I tried to type anything else, my hand would cramp up or go for my throat, and partly because if both teams play to full potential, we should win. There are 20 points up for grabs in the match: 6 for a first inning's lead, and 14 for winning the match. Here's hoping that Steve and the team come away with the lot.
For those after live coverage, the only site I can confirm that will be doing anything is Cricket Europe who through Rod Lyall will be doing an over by over update. I will do my best to post what I can allowing for work, and then the time difference.

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