As I haven’t been able to keep interested readers up to date with the regular blow by blow account of the rather fascinating three match ODI series between Kenya and Bermuda that came to a conclusion earlier on Sunday this post will look at general the general performance of the teams over the entire OD series. Having seen of Canada in two identical 4 wicket wins the Kenyans were brimming with confidence going into the series against opponents who not were not only looking out of their depth against Associates teams with ODI status but had managed to lose even to Uganda in their one of their warm-up games.
First up the batting. While this as been a relatively low scoring series with the highest total being a rather meagre 187/7 racked up by the Kenyans in pursuit of Bermuda’s 183 all out in the second ODI. Although Kenya wound up sealing a 3-0 series white wash there were quite a few occasions when they took their collective eye off the ball and but for the ease at which the Bermudan top order kept collapsing to leave the Kenyans for the most part chasing small totals then the series might have been a lot closer. Despite the absence of Tanmay Mishra who is away in University the first game saw a clinical half century from Obanda get Kenya home with few worries and many overs to spare but his absence apparently to injury from the batting line-up in the subsequent two matches and the resultant near-collapses that followed since may have exposed a certain lack of cover in the middle order. The Bermudans on the other hand never really got going with the bat often losing their first 5 wickets with little added to the scorecard and only being saved from complete obliteration by their captain Irving Romaine and young wicketkeeper Jekon Edness in the last game and going into their Intercontinental cup clash later this week both teams will no doubtedly have a few things to iron out in the batting department.
With the series being low scoring as it was it goes without saying that the bowlers particularly those of the art of spin generally had a good outings all around. Bermuda’s rock Dwayne ‘Big Daddy’ Leverock was the pick of the Bermudan bowling if not the entire series as his ability to take advantage of the spin on offer from the Gymkhana pitch more than tested Kenya’s batsmen and on two occasions almost wrestlked victory from the jaws of defeat, another special mention goes out Rodney Trott a young off spinner who marked his second ODI by bagging the wicket Of Steven Tikolo and then going on to take 4 wicket in the third match of the series and almost win Bermuda that game. As far Kenya’s spinners go there was a welcome return to form for Hiren Varaiya who earned figures of 3/10 (and the position as Kenya’s leading wicket taker for the series with 6) as well as good performances for Kamande and Tikolo. As far as the seam bowling goes where Bermuda’s bowlers tended to be rather wayward and inconsistent Kenya’s seam bowlers generally to the man bowled with accuracy and discipline with Peter Ongondo being the pick of the bowlers.
With the ODI series completed both teams will now reset their focus on the core business at hand, their Intercontinental Cup clash on Thursday with Bermuda desperate to halt a run of two huge innings defeats while Kenya who will probably be sweating on the fitness of Alex Obanda,on the other hand can go top of the table with a maximum points win
Having won the Intercontinental cup clash at a canter, thanks to big performances from Odoyo, Obanda, and especially Kamande who overcame the pain inflicted from a mugging only two days before to take 4 First innings wickets, Kenya came into this game on a high and looking to extend their dominance over Canada in the shorter version of the game. Despite reports that Peter Ongondo, one of Kenya’s most reliable pacemen of recent times would miss out on the OD matches due to injury it was widely expected Kenya would still be the favourites and his absence would very likely grant Alfred Luseno a chance to impress the selectors following his 1 year exile.
The selectors however chose to go with the youth of Elijah Otieno and th experience of Lameck Onyango over Luseno’s extra pace and as soon as the game got going The young Otieno opening the bowling alongside Thomas Odoyo got his first ODI wicket removing Mohammed Iqbal of his first delivery. However he, as well as fellow seamer Nehemiah Odhiambo, leaked runs at high enormous rates and though the Canadian batsmen were equally generous with their wickets it was largely the introduction of the offspin of Tikolo and Kamande late into the powerplay overs with Canada at 101/3 that really put some breaks on proceedings. In fact so effective was the spin of Kamande that at the end of his spell of 10-0-32-1 almost 20 overs later Canada had only managed to put on 52 runs and had in the process lost a further 3 wickets. And although the return of the fast bowlers meant that the Canadians were able to build some momentum goin into the slog overs the inability of all but Arvind Kandappah to stay at the crease for any extended period of time meant Canada’s innings ended two overs short of their allocated 50 on 230 all out
While Kenya had been set a none too challenging score 230 was still ‘defendable’ and any mistakes from the Kenyan’s could have been costly. At the start of th reply Kenya’s openers opted to hit out at everything the Canadian bowlers threw at them and by the 5tth over all of Kenya’s 31 runs had come off either boundaries or wides and this hit out at all costs almost fell apart when first Obuya, then Nehamiah Odhiambo, then Ouma and Finally Steve Tikolo were sent packing in three overs of madness that sent Kenya from 31/0 to 41/4. adn when Collins Obuya fell lbw a few overs later it seemed the Canadians were going to win the game a a canter, However Thomas Odoyo had other ideas and with the calm headed Alex Obanda for company the rebuiling process began with the two adding an important 86 for the sixth wicket before Obanda lost his wicket trying to accelerate the scoring rate having scored 30 off 91 deliveries.
At this point Odoyo who had just crossed the 50 mark himself upped the ante and with Jimmy Kamande he was not only able to blast his way to a second consecutive unbeaten century against the Canadians, he was able to rally Kenya to a victory which at one point seemd dead and buried with one and a half overs to spare.
So with victory only just assured Kenya await Sunday’s rematch again at the Gymkhana looking to seal the series win while Canada will be heartened by their ablilty to rattle Kenya early on and will most probably consider themselves more than capable of tying he series.
Considering the see-saw nature of the action on Day one with both teams having the bit between their teeth at some point it would have been a major surprise to any one that missed day two with Odoyo’s marvellously executed century as well as two top notch innings from David Obuya and Alex Obanda that Canada found themselves starting their second innings a whole 130 runs behind with two days left of play left to somehow salvage a positive result. Still Kenya needed to actually get ten wickets and then chase down whatever balance might be left over to seal the victory and if they took there eyes off the ball then this strong position could well be squandered.
As it panned out that wasn’t to be the case because by the end of the first over Canada were already 2 down with only 5 runs on the board as both their openers were removed by PJ Ongondo and with Alfred Luseno bowling with plenty of venom from the opposite end it seemed Canada could very well be embarrassingly rolled over, however some level headed batting from Bastiampillai and Quaser Ali, and then later onbegan the rebuilding process and help Canada clear the arrears with only 3 wickets lost and by the time Bastiampillai fell to the bowling of Tikolo on 63 and Canada on 165/4, Canada were looking in a strong enough position to go and set Kenya a daunting second innings target to chase but the players who had been reponsible for most of the runs in Canada’s first innings could not not repeat the trick as in the very next over Ashif Mulla nicked an Odhiambo outswinger to the wicket-keeper, Ouma before Kandappah misqued a Tikolo delivery six overs later to be dismissed for 87 and leave canada at 196/6 and eventually the return of Odoyo to the attack delivered the prize wicket of Sunil Dhaniram to leave Canada at 215/7
With their best batsmen now back in the pavillion Canada totteredto 229 all out with Tikolo being the pick of the bowlers getting figures of 4 for 34 with 5 maidens of his 16 overs. With just over 20 overs remaining in the day’s play and only 100 short of victory Morris Ouma and David Obuya set about polishing off the match with Ouma blasting fours off the first two deliveries he faced (a stark contrast to his golden duck in the first innings) bringing up his fifty in 49 deliveries and although Canada were able to get David Obuya’s wicket toleave Kenya at 80/1 by then ther seult was already a formality and the winning runs were duly knocked off 3 overs later when Ouma smashed Qaiser Ali down the ground for six to seal a comprehensive victory and give Kenya the maximum 20 points available for the Intercontinental cup. Another similarly comprehensive victory against Bermuda in November should put Kenya on top of the table as long as canada do not get more than 14 points in their game away to Namibia.
Match Scorecard (Cricinfo)
Resuming on 8/1 after a decidedly shaky start to their reply with David Obuya and Hiren Varaiya at the crease Kenya and the media men were already calling day 1 a disasterand although Kenya were indeed in a bit of a pickle at the start of play on day two that day one could hardly be described a disaster for Kenya considering that they had got Canada out for a relativly small 1st innings total and they still had every chance of putting up a decent lead as long as their batsmen did the right thing.
Moving into play on day 2 Canada were quick to remove night watchman Hiren Varaiya with left arm seamer Umar Bhatti again doing the damage to have Kenya at 8/2 but even they may ahev ended up regretting this as on to the crease a fiery 19 year old Alex Obanda who put on a veritable master-class in how to play the drive shot in his whirlwind 70 ball 83 that helped add 122 runs for the third wicket completely dispelling any fears that the poor batting displays that had plagued Kenya since the World Cup would return to haunt them. All the while David Obuya, who had recovered from taking a direct hit the day before while fielding to open the bating,
continued to accumulate runs and reached his own fifty from 106 deliveries. As had beenthe case with the Canadian innings there was little joy for the Canadian seam bowlers and it took the intervention of Sunil Dhaniram’s left arm spin to break the Obanda-Obuya axis at the crease. Nonetheless Obanda’s innings had decisevely changed the direction of the game and after useful contributions from captain Steve Tikolo and Collins Obuya Kenya were able to nudge ahead of Canada’s 1st innings total with 4 wickets in hand with Thomas Odoyo and Jimmy Kamande at the crease
It was at this stage that Thomas Odoyo really turned on the fireworks blasting his way with the aid of Kamande , and Nehemiah Odhiambo to his first First Class century and effectively taking the session if not the game away from The Canadiadians to finish unbeaten on 103. Although they eventually bowled Kenya out for 393 at th end of play, that a number of chances in the slip cordon were put down will be of concern to the Canadian team as they look to overturn a deficit of 130 in their second innings and try make a fight of this contest.
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
Match Scorecard (Cricinfo)
With the two opportunities to shine against test opposition been and gone with some nightmarish results esp in the T20 World Cup in S.A. The focus for the Kenya cricket team must surely go back, for the time being, to at least proving that they are still the premier Associate nation. And one way they can do this is by putting together victories in their upcoming home Intercontinental cup matches against Canada (Oct 12-15th) and Bermuda in early November. The change of format from previous years means that everybody will play everybody in the round robin stage Ireland and The Netherlands have already set the pace with both sitting pretty at the top of the table it will be crucial for Kenya to get some momentum by closing out comprehensive victories in these two matches.
First up will be the visit of Canada, who will play Kenya in an Intercontinental cup clash before participating in a 3 match ODI series. Whearas Kenya have largely been dominant over the Canadians in the One day format of the game, the small matter of Canada’s 25 run win in Toronto last year, a win that in some ways pushed Canada into the final of that years Intercontinental cup while effectively ending Kenya’s own campaign, will surely play on the minds of our boys as they begin their campaign to win the one trophy that has strangely eluded their grasp since its inception.
The second match against Bermuda, scheduled for the beginning of November may be a less difficult encounter considering that the last time these two teams met in this competition Bermuda only escaped with a draw thanks to two days of wet weather after having their backs to the wall thanks to some incisive bowling from Kenya. A similar performance from Kenya’s bowlers and better weather should see Kenya wrap up an easy victory there. However easy as this may sound it will be important that Kenya do not allow for any complacency as any dropped points in this encounter could come back to haunt them when they embark on the more difficult tours to Netherlands, Ireland and Scotland later on next year.
Although Kenya go into these matches without a permanent head coach since the return of Roger Harper to the West Indies, the team will be managed by veterans Alfred ‘Boi’ Njuguna and Martin Suji, whose experience on the world stage will be vitally important for the confidence and stability of a relatively young national side. Whether they choose to continue with the seemingly dominant policy during Roger Harper of regularly throwing new young talent into the deep end , a policy that has uncovered potential world class gems such as Tanmay Mishra , Hiren Varaiya, and more recently Alex Obanda, or opt for bringing back older more experienced players who had been dropped such as pacemen Alfred Luseno, and Josephat Ababu will be one of the questions on many fans minds as they await the team’s next assignment with nervous anticipation.
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