Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Super 8s here we come

Since the last time of writing, the Kenyan team has really turned things around to look like qualifying top of the group. 3 fine wins, admittedly against weaker opposition than The Netherlands and the teams they will need to beat from Group A in order to qualify for the World Cup.

First up was a 9 wicket demolition of the UAE who had no answer to the Kenyan bowling, especially Lameck Onyango who returned career best figures of 6-14 (incidentally also the best figures to date in the tournament). Limping to 79 all out, the Emirates never looked like threatening the Kenyans who knocked over the runs in a mere 12.2 overs with the only casualty being Maurice Ouma (50 off 38), who did superbly for his fifty, but who should also be disappointed in not seeing the job through. He is Kenya's second highest run scorer so far, but the tendency of getting starts and not converting has to concern the coach.

Then Kenya took on the hitherto undefeated Afghanistan and again were comfortable in victory, this time by 107 runs built on a superb unbeaten century from Kennedy Otieno and a fine run-a-ball 60 from Alex Obanda. Defending 282, Thomas Odoyo lead a team effort from Kenya's bowlers taking 3/29. While Afghanistan never threatened, Kenya could perhaps have won easier had they gone for the jugular rather than opt to rotate the bowling, though with the big games to come, the latter option was certainly the correct decision to allow players to find their form.

Finally, Kenya chased a very respectable 260 to beat Bermuda by what was in the end a very comfortable 7 wickets. What was a very real concern in this was the rotation of the bowlers and the reluctance of the captain to give more overs to the more inexperienced, but extremely economical Elijah Otieno. There is little doubt that he will develop into a key bowler for Kenya and should have been given a better chance than just the 5 overs he bowled. His figures of 1/13 by far the most economic of any of the Kenyan bowlers. Ouma and Otieno set the platform well for Kenya, both making half centuries and Alex Obanda briefly set the game alight with his cameo of 15, though he may have been better advised to settle in and consolidate time at the crease rather than opting for the all out attack mode.

Having disappointed with the ball and his bowling rotations, Tikolo was back to his majestic best with the bat seeing Kenya home with a fine 60* well supported by Collins Obuya who only failed to be the 4th Kenyan in the match to make a half century because Kenya overhauled the target too quickly.

All in all, these have been dominant displays, but it should be noted that all of Ireland, Canada and Scotland who await in the super 8s will offer much tougher resistance. Only 4 of the teams will go through to the World Cup, so someone is going to miss out. Kenya have one more Group match to maintain momentum - against bottom placed Denmark before phase 2 begins.