Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One that got away

If the first ODI was frustrating for Kenyan fans because Kenya seemed to be totally outplayed from the start, the second was more so because they seemed to contrive to lose a game that should have been won.

Once again Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat with Hamilton Masakadza once again in blistering form. This time however, Kenya's bowlers kept a much tighter reign and even though Masakadza made 66, he was not able either to score at the pace of the first game, now go on to convert it to a big hundred. Perhaps the difference in the team was the inclusion of Hiren Varaiya who came into the side for an unlucky Jimmy Kamande. Quite how the most economical bowler from the first game gets left out when Onyango who made a record for runs conceded was retained bamboozled not a few fans.

Varaiya was certainly the standout for Kenya taking 3/38 off his ten overs, but Tikolo 2/38 off 10 also impressed as did the third spinner used, Rakep Patel - no wickets perhaps, but 4 useful overs that went for just 18. While the spinners took the glory, much work had earlier been done by Peter Ongondo and surprisingly after the first game, Lameck Onyango. Both kept a tight line and prevented the Zimbabweans from scoring freely, no doubt contributing to the steady wickets that fell once the initial partnership had been broken. Nehemiah Odhiambo was more expensive, but still picked up 2 vital wickets and had Kenya not once more allowed an unbeaten 65 run stand between Matsikenyeri (77*) and Cremer (31* off 19), Zimbabwe should have been restricted to under 250. As it was, they still only posted 263 and this should have been a target to have Kenya pressing for a win.

David Obuya certainly made his intentions clear scoring freely at a run a ball and had he recieved better support from those around him both he and the cause would have fared better. Instead the other top order batsmen seemed to find it as hard to score as he found it easy and as a result the pressure built and wickets fell. Obuya in the end came unstuck on 49, but his innings alone deserved mention for trying to keep Kenya in the match.

From Zimbabwe's point of view, it was the spinners who did the damage. Cremer rightfully walked away with man of the match for his 6/46 but it was Utseya who introduced himself first and really began to take the game away from the Kenyans. Perhaps Kenya need to think on reintroducing Kamande for one of the seamers, most likely Otieno for the next game. While on the subject, the express pace of Luseno should also get a chance on this tour otherwise there is little reason for him to travel.

Little more can be said really. This was a game Kenya could and should have won. there is now a day's break before the 3rd game of the series and Kenya will need to regroup fast to avoid going 3-0 down. There is no doubt that the talent is there in this side to upset Zimbabwe. Individual performances have promised that but then foundered due to lack of support and perhaps self belief. Kenya must learn to go for the kill when there is a sniff of victory and they must learn to believe in themselves and the prospect of victory.

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