Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kenyan win dedicated to Rakep Patel's father

While Kenya's players were quick to celebrate their epic victory over Canada in the Intercontinental Cup they were quicker still to dedicate their voctory to the memory of their team mate's late father. Maurice Ouma, Kenyan Captain put it best in a comment on facebook:

"My first win as captain. The win in the Intercontinental Cup is dedicated to my team mate's dad. Rakep Patel, God be with you in this trying moments and may he bless you and keep you strong."

Other players have expressed similar sentiments and the solidarity of the team in such a tough time has shown through as well as their cricket which was for the most part exceptional.

Right from winning the toss, something Ouma is already becoming a master at, Kenya looked to take charge of the match, though they required the brilliance of Steve Tikolo to get them there.
While other batsmen got starts and then got out in Kenya's first innings, Tikolo was back to his best showing plenty of disdain for Canada's bowlers who found themselves despatched to all parts of the ground. Despite no one else making a half Century, Tikolo's stand was enough to carry Kenya over the 300 mark and give the bowlers plenty of opportunity to do their bit. While they did not make big scores, it should be noted that both Ouma, Alex Obanda and vice-captain, Jimmy Kamande did contribute by way of decent partnerships with Tikolo, something perhaps lost on those who just perused the scorecard at the end of the day's play. Without them there, Tikolo would not have been able to dominate to nearly such a great extent.

Canada's first innings got off to a shaky start due to some excellent new ball bowling from Thomas Odoyo and Nehemiah Odhiambo who both picked up wickets before the close of play on day 1 to leave Canada in trouble at 14-2. Odhiambo, who carried his domestic form into this game, was in particular used well by Ouma who brought him on to break partnerships on several occasions through the game. Picking up 5 wickets for the match he was the most incicive of Kenya's seamers, but Odoyo could feel unlucky for not taking more as he repeatedly beat the bat and tied the Canadian batsmen in Knots. Not content to dominate with the bat, Tikolo added 2 wickets to his match effort along side left arm spinner Hiren Varaiya. 2 players who should also be commended though they did not figure largely in the wicket tallies were Peter Ongondo and Jimmy Kamande. Their spell after tea on day 2 was particularly impressive as they prevented the Canadians from scoring for 9 consecutive overs before the pressure finally told and Ongondo picked up what was to prove his only wicket of the match.

Unlike Canada, Kenya's openers survived their few remaining overs before stumps and Kenya were looking good going into day 3. A brief fightback the following morning saw David Obuya and Alex Obanda quickly back to the pavillion, but that only brought back Tikolo to the crease to join teenage opener Seren Waters. In a partnership not seen by a Kenyan pair for far too long they first rode their luck (both being dropped before they reached their 50s) and then made the hosts pay as they added 330 runs for the third wicket. Tikolo eventually fell for 169, his second 150+ score of the match, the wicket prompting Ouma to declare and once again give the Canadians a horror few overs to face before stumps.

As in their first innings, Odoyo struck early and when the spin of Hiren Varaiya accounted for Jyoti with the score on 56, Canada knew they were going to need to bat well on the final day to hold out for a draw. It was not to be. Once again it was Odoyo that got the early breakthrough on the final morning, but then began the Varaiya show. The left arm spinner has always enjoyed bowling against the Canadians and scythed through their middle order and tail to finish with career best figures of 6-45. Again Odhiambo provided the perfect foil picking up 2 wickets of his own, but it was the spin and flight of varaiya that really had the Canadians bamboozled. In the end only the weather could have saved them as a thunder storm threatened to snatch victory from under Kenyan noses, but in the end even that could not come quick enough to deny Ouma his maiden win as Kenya Captain.

With the spirit shown in Ireland and the new vigour and enthusiasm he has instilled in the team, it should be the first of many. Kenya, who thanks to this result are now top of the Intercontinental Cup table, will now look to tomorrow's first ODI to underline their dominance and continue their resurgence.

Man of the match is hardly up for debate, but there is a poll available for you to let us know who you think deserves points for towards the Player of the Year award. Due to Tikolo's efforts, this poll will allow multiple votes so we can determine who you want to be awarded the minor points.

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