This round of the East Africa Premier League and Cup well and truly belonged to the bowlers. Across the 6 matches, played on Saturday and Sunday, there was just the two 50 plus pampe and batting partnerships were a premium wherever teams could get them going not to mention at least 5 bowlers managed 5 wickets or more. The two aforementioned half centuries came from Coast Pekee’s 64 run win over the Rwenzori Warriors. Morris Ouma (62) and Irfan Karim (83) anchored their team to 206/9. This proved far too much for the Warriors in the face of Raj Savala’s 5 wickets for 11 runs. This game result being revenge for the Premier League result the day before. Then, having joined the franchise as a batting coach, Steve Tikolo shone with the ball taking out 6 wickets for just 12 as Coast Pekee were all out for 89, eventually succumbing to a 12 run loss under the Duckworth-Lewis system. Up in Nakuru, scores were lower with the Kanbis Tigers making very hard work of chasing down Rift Valley Rhinos’ 71/9, scraping across the line with to win by just 2 wickets, in the Premier League. They made even heavier weather of their Cup game, this time needing all 11 of their batsmen to chase 154 in under 50 overs. However, even figures of 5 wickets for 26 runs from Kenya international, James Ngoche, could not stop the Tigers from completing another 2/2 weekend. This brings me to the absolute best bowling effort of the weekend. Ordinarily when your team has all of 50 overs to chase down 102 to win a game, victory is more a matter of when, rather than if. Certainly That’s what the Nile Knights thought. They hadn’t counted on Kongonis’ Elijah Otieno, not reading the script. He pretty much single handedly ran through the Knights lineup amassing 7 of the 10 wickets to fall for personal figures of 7/13 as Kongonis pulled out an amazing 35 runs win in trying circumstances. Next week Kongonis host Rwenzori Warriors, Rift Valley Rhinos welcome Nile Knights, and Coast Pekee visit the in form Tigers.
The Weekend of August 4th and 5th was the first week of the East Africa Cup and Premier Leagues, as pointed out in my last cricket post, the biggest change in the competition was Kanbis Cricket Club taking over the second franchise slot allotted to Nairobi Province Cricket Association.
This new franchise, The Kanbis Tigers, certainly showed a hell of a lot of tigritude on their opening weekend with two barnstorming wins over Kongonis at the Nairobi Club. Both accomplished batting second, there was plenty of intent through and through both performances, ranging from Rakep Patel’s 94 (off 61 balls) to the fact that team chasing down their One day target at 6 and over against the defending champions, this blogger will certainly be looking at this franchise as serious contenders in both tournaments.
Kongonis, on the other hand, will have a lot of head scratching to do, if this weekend’s performances are to be taken as representative of their squad’s strength. They lost a few key pieces of their championship team to the Tigers and it is probably really galling that it is the crucial interventions of these pieces that they, were over-matched in most departments by their opponents. All in all they will need to step up a gear to get the kind of results they need to make the finals of either the t20 EAPL or 50 over Cup Competition.
Coast Pekee on the other hand look to be getting immediate dividends from their new recruits. Landing an impressive 65 run win over the dangerous Rift Rhinos before the Nakuru side found their bearings and won the 50 over match the following day. Poor to the point of being insipid last season, Coast Pekee’s new found strength was most aptly demonstrated by Morris Ouma’s 100 (off 63 balls). More such performances from him and some of the veterans they brought in should make them a real force to reckon with this year.
Whereas Coast look like they will be operating on individual brilliance, the Rhinos on the other hand won their one match on the back of team effort. though no one particular performance would merit the status of cricketing milestone, the sum of Peter Kituku’s 45, Peter Ongondo’s 27, and Hiren Varaiya’s 3/33 was more than anything Coast Pekee could muster.
In the battle of the Ugandan franchises, Rwenzori Warriors came out tops in both formats of the game to remind everyone that as was the case last season, they remain the stronger of the two Uganda franchises
Nest week sees Kongonis travel to Mombasa to face Pekee, Kanbis host the Nile Knights (whether it is at the Gymkhana or Eastleigh High School I don’t know yet), whilst The Rift Valley Rhinos will be in Uganda to take on Rwenzori. In the T20 I tip Pekee, Kanbis and Rwenzori to win, while in the 50 over cup my tips are Kongonis, Kanbis and Rift valley Rhinos.