Monday, January 25, 2010

Big game for Kenya starts today

Kenya take on Scotland from today at Nairobi Gymkhana in what has become a must win match for the home side if they are to stay in contention for a finals spot come the end of the competition. Yesterday Afghanistan defeated Ireland – their first loss in the tournament since 2004 – to go top of the table with 43 points and Kenya must look to take a full 20 points to match this having already played one extra game.

Rain has hampered preparations for Maurice Ouma’s men, but they will still take the home ground advantage into the match and on balance will be the more experienced of the two sides that take the field. An exception to this, and it could be a telling one, is in the seam bowl department where for the first time in many years, Kenya will be without either Thomas Odoyo (injured) and Peter Ongondo (left out of the squad).

This leaves the seam responsibilities to Alfred Luseno, Elijah Otieno and Nehemiah Odhiambo. It is certainly an attack that has shown improvement over the last 12 months and especially since new coach Eldine Baptiste took the reigns, but will it have the experience to knock over the Scottish top order? Should they fail to do so, at least there is plenty of experience and quality in the spin attack that should feature all of Hiren Varaiya, Jimmy Kamande and Steve Tikolo, though youngster James Ngoche may also get a surprise cap.

With the bat, Kenya should have the quality to post big scores on a ground the batsmen are used to playing on. Seren Waters, David Obuya, Rakep Patel and Alex Obanda will all feel they have things to prove while Steve Tikolo has shown time and again he remains a star batsman.

Scotland come into the game with a relatively inexperienced side, several of whom have not yet played in Kenya so the home side will be hoping to turn this to their advantage and put on early pressure. While they do not have the experience, there is no doubting the quality in the Scotland camp and they too will start today looking for a win. Majid Haq, Kyle Coetzer and Qasim Sheikh are all potential match winners on their day and Scotland too have high aspirations this year in a competition they last won in 2004.

Weather permitting, it should turn out to be a great match. There has been some build up among Kenyan cricket fans and despite the match happening on work days – why they could not have scheduled the start for a Sunday, only the ICC know – there should be a few supporters at the ground to cheer their team on. Here’s hoping that 2010 gets off to a better start for Kenyan cricket the previous year…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The new coach is doing very well hey!
Pity about another loss though...
Team selection and batting order seems questionable.
Can someone explain why Thomas Odoyo did not play against Scotland? I see that today he played for his Zimbabwe team the Southern Rocks