Friday, March 16, 2007

A good way to win

Kenya got their world Cup capaign off to the perfect start yesterday beating Canada by 7 wickets at Goss Islet in St. Lucia. I wrote a full match report on CricketEurope Kenya, so won't repeat myself here, but will concentrate on what the performance means to Kenya.
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Firstly, what a great performance by the team. It was not the fact that they won, but the way in which they won. There may have been some concern over the lack of penetration from the opening bowlers, and they will no doubt face a stiffer test against the Kiwis and Poms, but they bowled well on the whole and did not let Canada get away in the early overs. Nehemiah Odiambo got the treatment, expecially in his second over from Geoff Barnett, and it will be interesting to see how Harper responds in terms of the third seamer for the match against New Zealand. He could either bring in Onyango or Bhudia or give Odhiambo a chance to redeem himself. It is a difficult decision as aside from the bowling, Odhiambo gives the option of a pinch hitter as well.
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By far the most outstanding performance came from the spinners. Tikolo and Kamande both took two wickets to Varaiya's one, but it was the latter's economy rate that really made the difference as soon as he came on. Kamande provided fantastic support, and it was really these two that took the match away from the Canadians. With Tikolo as the third spinner, Kenya are looking good in the middle overs, especially if Varaiya is able to come on and bowl during the third powerplay as he did yesterday. It means that Tikolo has the option of only using the third seamer sparingly, or protecting him as was the case with Odhiambo. It might not be a combination that works so well against the Test sides, or on other pitches, but witht the St. Lucia pitch giving assistance to the spinners, it looks like a potent weapon for the moment.
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My only real concern with the bowlers, other than the third seamer, is with the closing overs. Peter Ongondo tried to find the yorker without success and Odoyo bowled a good line, but while Canada were not able to capitalise, New Zealand and England are likely to be a very different story.
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Fielding wise, Kenya looked like a polished unit. They were alert in the circle and quick enough to prevent singles. Only one catrch was put down, and Ongondo redeemed himself for that before too much damage had been done. In the outfield, the Kenyans were quick across the ground and threw themselves around to stop boundaries. Three players stood out for their efforts. Tanmay Mishra looked World Class wherever he was put, but it was his catch on the ropes to dismiss Barnett that was particularly special. Had he got it wrong, he would have given away a six, but he positioned himself perfectly, checked his position with respect to the rope, steadied, then took the catch cleanly high up. Fantastic stuff. The other two were Kamande and Varaiya off their own bowling. When a bowler covers a few yards either side of the wicket well, it gives the skipper less space to worry about in terms of placing fielders. Both did this well, and the rewards were obvious. If Kenya can field like this in the remaining matches, they will at the least win plenty of respect.
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Batting wise, it was a clinical effort for the most part. David Obuya looked troubled by Cummins, eho eventually removed him, and it is a concern how he will fare against the likes of Bond. Maurice Ouma however shoed a touch of class in making his fifty and aside from the hoick that got him out played sensibly. Hopefully a sign of things to come.
Shah looked out of sorts, but is a classy enough player to find form again quickly. He will need to do so befoer we face New Zealand as he is a crucial part of the line up. Tikolo and Mishra did just what was neccessary, though both showed that had they needed, they could have stepped it up a notch. Tikolo's consecutive fours to bring up his half century were sublime and he showed again what a class act he is. Mishra responds well batting with his captain and once again provided a significant contribution to a Kenyan win.
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All in all, this was a very professional effort from Kenya, and one they should be proud of. Sterner tests lie ahead, but if they play like they did yesterday, they will give any opposition a run for their money. If everything goes right, they could well even cause an upset, and it only needs one now to get them through to the next round. Here's hoping...

6 comments:

Kenyanomics said...

I never enrolled in cricket PE classes when growing up in Naivasha, but I am in the process of learning them. I am very happy we trounced Canadians. The same should happen to Englishmen next weekend.

I hope we reach semis? Can we?

Chemosit said...

Great to hear you are converting to this great game - keep us posted on how you go!

Regards beating England or New Zealnd - that would certainly be an upset, but is by no means impossible as i stated in this and other articles.

As for the semis -let's stick with Roger Harper and take one game at a time!

Anonymous said...

england probably didnt want to have to beat kenya to qualify for the second round. wonder if colins obuya will get a bowl? know hes out of form but after his antics at the last world cup dont you think they should give him a few overs and see what happens?

Ram said...

Nick,

Congrats on the win against Canada..

I think that Kenya have a good chance of making it to the Super 8s considering that they've England in their group..Judging by how comfortably Kenya defeated Canada, who by the way batted full 50 overs and maintained dignity in their 51 run defeat to England, I would say the final group match Ken vs Eng represents Kenya's best chance to upset an under-pressure England and thereby make it to the Super 8s where they could be potentially joined by Ban and Ire...The presence of such teams in the Super 8s may rob the event of its glamour and revenue but will undoubtedly be a fitting tribute to the late Bob Woolmer who had always been a passionate backer/fan of non-Test cricket...

Steve said...

Nice piece.

Interestingly enough, there has not been much coverage of this loss in Canadian media (actually I cannot find any) while there has been a lot of commentary about the loss to England.

Someday the "hesh" will come ...

- Steve

Kenya's Cricket Heroes said...

kudos to the kenyan cricket team!!