Little time to turn around a troubled tour
With only a day to go before Kenya's Intercontinental Cup match against Scotland, there has been little time for the team to refocus after the disaster that was the 20-20 World Cup Qualifiers. Kenya lost to all three European sides during that tournament in one of the worst batting performances that Kenyan fans have had to endure in recent times.
In four matches only three players managed to score over 20 runs:
Steve Tikolo (37 v Netherlands), Kennedy Obuya (40 v Canada) and Rageb Aga (28 v Scotland).
It is hardly a record that instils confidence for a side that was once considered the strongest of the Associates. Whether it was the weather conditions, pitch conditions or unfamiliarity with the format, Kenya's batsmen were made to look very ordinary against bowling attacks they would have expected to dominate. Had Kenya's bowlers not performed exceptionally well, things could have been a lot worse.
Indeed the bowling from Kenya's top bowlers was exemplary with Thomas Odoyo especially miserly and Hiren Varaiya again impressing. So well did he bowl in three of the matches (2/24 off 4 v Netherlands, 1/11 off 3 v Canada and 0/11 off 4 against Scotland) that it is a struggle to see why Tony Suji was preferred for 3 overs against Ireland - 3 overs that incidentally went for 26 runs and quite probably cost Kenya a place in the finals. Strange also was the exclusion of an extra batsman in the latter two games when it was clearly in that department that Kenya were struggling.
Tomorrow at least will return Kenya to a format that they are much happier with and one where the experience of the senior players such as Tikolo and the Obuya brothers should make a difference. David Obuya (definitely missed in the 20-20s) and Alfred Luseno return to the squad against Scotland and it would certainly be hard to overlook Obuya after the poor batting display from the rest of the top order in Stormont. Luseno is unlikely to get a place in the starting line up as the seam attack of Odoyo, Ongonda and Aga looks perhaps to be the best Kenya have been able to field in an Intercontinental Cup match to date. With Varaiya, Kamande and Tikolo providing three spin options as well, it would make more sense for the selectors to look to bolster the batting.
Scotland, with the home ground advantage and momentum after the heavy defeat of Kenya in the third place play off in the 20-20s will be a tough team to beat. If Kenya apply themselves and play to their potential however, it is certainly possible. It is just a matter of which Kenyan team turns up on the day.
Scotland (from): Ryan Watson (captain), Richie Berrington, Dewald Nel, John Blain, Gordon Drummond, Majid Haq, Omer Hussain, Dougie Lockhart, Ross Lyons, Qasim Sheikh, Neil McCallum, Fraser Watts.
Kenya (from): Steve Tikolo (captain), Thomas Odoyo, Kennedy Otieno, Peter Ongondo, Tony Suji, Hiren Varaiya, Rakep Patel, Morris Ouma, Jimmy Kamande, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Elijah Otieno, Alex Obanda, Ragheb Aga, David Obuya, Alfred Luseno, Collins Obuya.