With the unavailability of middle order prodigy Tanmay Mishra from the team for what has been reported as personal reasons and fitness concerns hanging around the Swamibapa players considering their inactivity (under somewhat dubious and probably avoidable circumstances) many fans and pundits were wondering if this was one gamble too many, or some unexplainable burst of inspiration going into the first day of the Intercontinental Cup on Friday morning at the Nairobi Gymkhana. Besides that the team that was selected for this game was largely unchanged from the T20 World cup with the exception of Fast bowler Alfred Luseno’s restoration to the team in place of Medium pacer Rajesh Bhudia
Canada on the other hand with a largely new and inexperienced squad came into the match having been in the Kenya for about a week and having just about scraped a ten run win against a plucky Kenya ‘A’ side on Wednesday. Among the more high profile absentees from the team was regular captain and Ashish Bagai due to work commitments thus the team was led out by Sunil Dhaniram but with strong performances in the Intercontinental cup including a finals appearance in the 2006 edition they were certainly not intending to simply be rolled over by their Kenyan counterparts.
So into the match and having won the toss Canada’s opening pair,Abdul Jabar Chauwdry and Mohammad Iqbal set about building a solid foundation for their innings reaching 78 without loss partners seeind off new ball bowlers Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo as well as scoring qiuck runs of Nehemiah Odhiambo and returning Fast bowler Alfred Luseno before the introduction of spinners Jimmy Kamande and Hiren Varaiya sparked an almost cataclysmic collapse with the score then sliding to 122/6 soon after lunch when Ashif Mulla was runout of the bowling of Varaiya. Jimmy Kamande took his four wickets in a run of 4/0 in his first spell as well as running out Ashif Mulla while Varaiya bowling from the other end was less succesful only getting among the wickets later on in the day. At this point it seemed Canada were going to be shot out for a small 1st innings total but stand-in captain Sunil Dhaniram and Umar Bhatti came together at the crease to see off the pressure applied by Kenya’s spinners and Lift Canada to 220, before the pair were split by a delivery from Varaiya. With Dhaniram falling to Varaiya on 78 (the highest score of the Canadian innings, Umar Bhatti battled on with Durand Soraine to take Canada to 26o before the seamers, Odoyo, Odhiambo and Ongondo returned to take the reaminig wickets for 3 runs and end Canada’s innings at 263 all out.
With less than an hour to play in the day it Canada struck back in the first over of Kenya’s first innings when Maurice Ouma lost his wicket to the very first delivery of Umar Bhatti to leave Kenya tottering at 0/1 in the first over. However Varaiya, sent out as night watchman, and David Obuya were able to steer Kenya through the last few overs of the day without any further damage at least not to the scorecard as Kenya reached 8/1 at stumps.
Having allready lost Maurice Ouma cheaply Kenya on the first day and with Tanmay Mishra unavailable there will be extra pressure on Kenya’s remaining top and middle order batsmen, namely Steve Tikolo, Alex Obanda,Collins Obuya, and allrounder Thomas Odoyo to perform in order to try guide Kenya to a useful 1st innning total if not a decent 1st innings lead. Canada on the other hand will be looking to try force early wickets in the morning having already broken Kenya’s opening partnership