|World Cricket League Division 1: Nairobi, January-February 2007|
Kenya take World Cricket League title
Kenya made sure of the first-ever World Cricket League First Division title at Nairobi Gymkhana on Wednesday, securing a comfortable eight-wicket victory over a tired-looking Scotland.
Kenya took a firm hold on the the match pre-lunch session, bowling Scotland out for 155 in 47 overs after Scottish captain Craig Wright won the toss and elected to bat, and then pursued their target relentlessly after the interval, eventually winning with twelve overs to spare.
On a pitch that seemed perfect for batting, Fraser Watts and Majid Haq began cautiously against some well-directed bowling from Thomas Odoyo and Peter Ongondo. It was Odoyo who secured the breakthrough, inducing Haq to edge to Steve Tikolo in the fifth over.
Watts and Ryan Watson set about the recovery, and their partnership of 52 proved to be the highest of the innings. Watson was looking in ominous form, hitting four boundaries before Lameck Onyango replaced Odoyo at the City End and Watson, attempting to hook, skied a top edge to Ongondo at fine leg.
This initiated a startling collapse which gave Kenya a stranglehold on the game, four further wickets falling in five overs for the addition of just seven runs. First Watts pulled Ongondo to Tanmay Mishra at square leg, then Gavin Hamilton edged Hiren Varaiya to keeper Maurice Ouma, and then Neil McCallum, prodding forward, was brilliantly run out by David Obuya from silly mid-off.
The Kenyan fielding generally ranged from sharp to brilliant, adding considerably to the growing pressure on the Scottish batsmen. Jimmy Kamande twice hit the stumps direct from square, and the whole side contributed to the pressure.
Colin Smith was trapped leg before by Onyango to make the score 66 for six, but then Dougie Brown and Craig Wright added 39 for the seventh wicket before Brown was run out by another fine piece of fielding from Collins Obuya.
Wright followed three runs later, l.b.w. to Jimmy Kamande, who was the third of the Kenyan spinners to contain the Scottish batsmen. Varaiya and Tikolo had gone for less than three an over, but Kamande was even more economical, and in addition he picked up a second wicket when John Blain was caught by Tikolo.
Paul Hoffmann responded to the crisis by smashing a six and two fours, but then he holed out to Kamande off Onyango, and the innings closed on 155.
Blain and Hoffmann worked hard either side of the interval to dislodge openers Maurice Ouma and David Obuya, but once their initial onslaught was past the rigours of the past month visibly began to take their toll on the Scots. The Kenyan batsmen took no chances, preferring a succession of singles to exciting strokeplay, and a breakthrough seemed increasingly unlikely.
When it came, it was through a Kenyan mistake: Obuya clipped Wright to point, Ouma came for the single, and with the striker standing his ground Ouma had no chance of beating McCallum's return. Obuya's disappointment was evident as he hurled his bat some fifteen yards.
Ravindu Shah joined him at the wicket, as Obuya turned his frustration to a more creative purpose by immediately smashing Wright for a four and a six. Shah, too, began quietly, and as the Kenyans inexorably approached their target, a subplot developed: would Obuya reach his first ODI century?
His fifty came off 71 balls with two fours and a six, and with 19 needed for the win, Obuya was 13 short. Shah was giving every possible assistance, but when he had reached 93 - and the total was on 145 - Obuya smashed Lyons to Hamilton at midwicket and he held on to a sharp catch.
Tikolo came in, and fittingly enough, he had time to hit three boundaries to make sure of a well-deserved victory.
The Scottish bowlers had stuck to their task gallantly, but the side had lost the match in the course of thirty balls in the morning. Kenya were too strong in every department, and have achieved their aim of establishing that they are still the best side outside the ten Test nations.