What you need to know:
- Soon after Rushab departed for 5 in the fourth over, Obanda showcased his big-hitting prowess with seven boundaries and 11 meaty sixes as he raced to 115 from 83 before he got dismissed after chopping one delivery onto his own stumps by the ever-impressive Italy captain Gareth Kyle Berg (3 for 33 in 10).
Kenya never try to fix what's not broken. Whenever they've been tempted to do so, they've been reminded that what works best for them is experience and they should stick to it.
After finishing Round I of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B on a whimper with just three points out of possible 10 in Oman 2019, Cricket Kenya’s boat was heavily rocked and knew it was about time they returned to their experienced 'generals'.
And in Kampala, Uganda for Round II of the showpiece, Kenya are thus far playing like men who have shed some skin and are willing to die a little for their country.
Fire in their bellies
Kenya started off this particular campaign like a house on fire; bowling out Bermuda for 107 runs in 27 overs courtesy of paceman Elijah Asoyo Otieno’s fifer (5 wickets for 21 runs in 7 overs) and Emmanuel Ringera Bundi’s four for 26 in eight overs before their batsmen led by Rushab Patel (49 runs off 51 balls) chased it down in 19 overs at Lugogo Cricket Ground last Saturday.
A spanner was thrown in the works in their second game as they went down by 96 runs to a polished Jersey – one of the two unbeaten teams in the tournament thus far alongside Hong Kong on Monday.
But when the Simbas returned against Italy in Lugogo on Thursday, they were in roaring mood. Man of Match Alex Auma Obanda, who is based in Uganda and plays for local outfit Ceylon Lions, was indeed in ruthless fashion spraying the balls all-around the park.
Soon after Rushab departed for 5 in the fourth over, Obanda showcased his big-hitting prowess with seven boundaries and 11 meaty sixes as he raced to 115 from 83 before he got dismissed after chopping one delivery onto his own stumps by the ever-impressive Italy captain Gareth Kyle Berg (3 for 33 in 10).
Ounce of luck
Obanda’s half century was off less than 48 balls but the next 65 runs came off just 30-odd deliveries and he will be thanking the heavens for Amir Sharif’s tame caught-and-bowled chance that went down begging while he was on 99 – coincidentally his jersey number.
Obanda celebrated with his famous style of turning his bat into a mock sniper and shooting away stray bullets into the Kenyan dugout to the applause of his teammates.
“I have been struggling for runs,” said the 34-year-old right-hand opening batsman. “I knew I had to do something today and once I scented blood, I went for it. You saw it, hitting sixes is what it means,” Obanda, whose ton was only his second in List A matches, cheekily replied when journalists asked him what his moniker "Aleba Ni Noma" means.
And while Obanda ran amok, credit must go to a 40-year-old legend of the game in Associate Cricket – Collins Omondi Obuya who played second fiddle in that 119-run third wicket partnership that was a mix of brutality and controlled aggression from just 60 balls.
Obuya reached his half-century off 72 balls but erupted to finish with 88 runs from 86 balls and alongside former Under 19 captain Sachin Bhudia, who cantered to a 19-ball 40 helped Kenya set a mammoth 340 for 9 in 50 overs – the highest score of the tournament thus far.
Marcus Campopiano (85 runs off 99 balls) and Nicholas Maiolo (41 runs off 47 balls) kept Italy interested during the chase but once they were dismissed by Vraj Patel (2/44) and Obuya (2/44) respectively, the match was over as a contest as Kenya picked up their second win – a 135-run triumphy after restricting Italy to 206 - of the event and steered clear of the danger zone on the overall standings.
“It was a good decision to bat first as it was a fresh wicket and it was always nice to see Alex get runs. Skipper Shem Ngoche sat out injured and hopefully he will be back for our next game against Uganda on Sunday,” said captain of the day Rakep Patel, who contributed 30 runs off 27 balls with the bat including one four and three sixes.
Kenya will take a two-day rest in third place on the log of this round with four points after three matches and in fourth on the overall standings with 7 points after eight matches. The event is a pathway to next year’s ICC World Cup in India and only one team will progress from this round with a possible chance of earning One Day International (ODI) status.
Kenya have been there before and should be the hungrier of all sides at this level as they’re five-time World Cup heroes.
ICC CWC Challenge League B
Kenya 340/9 Italy 206/9 (Kenya won by 134 runs)
Hong Kong 313/9 Bermuda 119/10 (Hong Kong won by 194 runs)
Kenya's earlier results
Bermuda 107/10 Kenya 109/4 - Kenya won by 6 wickets (186 balls remaining)
Jersey 275/10 Kenya 179/10 - Jersey won 96 runs (54 balls remaining)
Friday's fixtures - 10am
Hong Kong v Jersey, Lugogo Cricket Ground
Uganda v Italy, Kyambogo University Oval
Kenya's next fixture – June 26
Uganda v Kenya, Lugogo Cricket Ground