Kenyans op­ti­mistic

Rakep prom­ises to cat­a­pult Kenya back to glory as they pre­pare to host Hong Kong

The Star (Kenya) - - Sports - BY CONSOLATA MAKOKHA

@Con­nie_Makokha

Kenya men’s na­tional cricket team goes into their two-match ICC World Cricket League with Hong Kong, yearn­ing to take Kenya back to the World arena this week­end in Nairobi.

Coached by for­mer na­tional team player Thomas Odoyo, the Kenyan side is seek­ing to beat Hong Kong in the two-day show set for to­mor­row (Fri­day) and Sun­day at the Nairobi Gymkhana Club.

Kenya are cur­rently placed fifth with six points in the eight-team ICC World Cricket League ta­ble, be­hind lead­ers Pa­pua New Guinea ( 12 ), Nether­lands ( 12 ), Scot­land ( 11 ) and Hong Kong ( 9 ). Nepal ( 6 ), Namibia ( 2 ) and United Arab Emi­rates ( 2 ), close the ta­ble.In the world league, Kenya have reg­is­tered mixed re­sults, beat­ing Namibia 2-0, shar­ing spoils ( 1-1 ) with UAE and los­ing to lead­ers Pa­pua New Guinea 2-0. The eight out­fits are bat­tling for two slots to the 2019 ICC World Cup qual­i­fier.

Kenya’s cap­tain Rakep Pa­tel in­ti­mated that his team­mates are in high spir­its ahead of the tour­ney and ready to cat­a­pult Kenya back to the past In­ter­na­tional glory.

“We are con­fi­dent to de­liver a win over Hong Kong. We are well aware of the im­por­tance of this tie and we are not tak­ing the vis­it­ing team for granted,” said Pa­tel, who is an all-rounder, to­gether with Collins Obuya. “We be­lieve in our­selves; we have pre­pared well and hope­fully, we will ex­e­cute mag­nif­i­cently to de­liver Kenya back to the world stage,” he added.

The two squads have locked horns twice in the past with Kenya beat­ing the vis­i­tors Hong Kong on both oc­ca­sions ( 1994 and 2014 ). On Fe­bru­ary 23, 1994, in the ABN-Amro ICC Tro- phy Group E, Kenya beat Hong Kong by eight wick­ets (with 204 balls re­main­ing) at Nairobi Gymkhana Club.

On March 25, 2014, in the ICC Cricket World Cup Qual­i­fier, Kenya also de­feated Hong Kong by 10 runs (D/L method) at the Main­power Oval, Ran­giora, New Zealand.

Odoyo noted that there is pres­sure on both sides and the re­sult will de­pen on how each team copes with it.

Apart from re­turn­ing to the global arena, Kenyans hope to ex­tend their dom­i­nance over Hong Kong, while the vis­i­tors look to break the jinx.

“The side that man­ages to bal­ance off the pres­sure; do their ba­sics to per­fec­tion and ex­e­cute well will carry the day,” said Odoyo, who played in the 2003 World Cup semi-fi­nals.

Fondly re­ferred to as ‘Method Cap­tain,’ Hong Kong’s skip­per Babar Hayat who scored 82 runs on Novem­ber 6 against Pa­pua New Guinea, said his team­mates and him­self are look­ing to write new records in Nairobi.

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