The final leg of Kenya’s preparation for the 2011 Cricket World Cup (co-hosted by India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) begin this week when club sides from Baroda and Gujarat in India visit for a series of One day and First Class (4 day I believe games). The Times of India reports that Baroda Cricket Association sent mainly a16 man side consisting mainly of players aged 22 side, but Indian national team all rounder Yusuf Pathan would travel to add experience to the side. This blogger has yet to find any information on the travelling Gugarat side though one can assume that it will be a strong team to give the national team a stern test over the next three weeks.
The two teams will each play Kenya once in a Four day game before contesting a 6 match ODI tri series that will last up to about the 11th August. There will also be at least one game for a Kenya probables XI v. Baroda. As I post this Kenya will have just completed their fist 3 day game versus Baroda. I will be on the look out for full fixtures and results over the duration of the tour games.
These matches will give the ailing national team an opportunity to wok out the batting issues that caused them to finish bottom of the World Cricket League Division One tourney in Holland at the start of July. The World Cup is less than a year away and after series there is not much time for preparation matches. Kenya will play all of her Group games in Sri Lanka, the scene of their first ever shock upset (that famous match where they bowled out a West Indies team featuring the likes of Brian Lara and Shiv Chanderpaul for only 93) at the world stage. Though it is likely that the batting surfaces in the subcontinent will be far tamer that what they had to deal with in the World cricket League. For most matches they will be facing a completely different calibre of bowling, what with fast bowlers like Australia’s Shaun Tait having topped the 160-kph mark during his team’s ODI series v. England and Pakistan. That kind of pace simply does not exist with the kind of bowlers Kenya faces most of the time
That said this series is still an opportunity for some of the locally based players to make a real case for a place ahead of their England based rivals, that I hear on good authority are in sizzling form. Therefore, God speed to them.