Cricket: Kenya skipper Shem Ngoche sorry for poor run

It has been that sort of week for Kenya’s national cricket team at Round II of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B in Kampala.

Shem Obado Ngoche, Kenya’s skipper, was quick to apologise to their fans watching the stream on ICC.TV and those that turned up at Lugogo Cricket Ground on Sunday after the five-time World Cup heroes got overwhelmed by Uganda in a seven-wicket loss to their arch-rivals.

“We are really sorry to our fans and those that travelled from Kenya to watch this East African Derby,” said the 33-year-old Ngoche after Uganda’s batsmen; Simon Ssesazi (87 runs from 112 balls) and Dinesh Nakrani (55 runs from 47 balls) constructed an unbeaten fourth-wicket stand of 90 runs from 85 balls to win the game for the Cricket Cranes with 29 balls to spare.

“We didn’t bat very well at the back-end of our innings. With the way we started, we should have scored at least 260 runs but lost too many wickets for nothing and we could only set 220 runs. 260 would have given our bowlers a worthy total to bowl at.”

Hot and Cold

Ngoche’s apology was a perfect gesture to make up for Kenya’s insipid display after they failed to take advantage when they were coasting along nicely with 197 runs for the loss of just four wickets in the 40th over.

Top scorer Rakep Patel with a run-a-ball innings of 72 and newbie Tanzeel Sheikh with 31 runs off 37 balls were the men that got Kenya on the front-foot with a high-scoring fourth-wicket stand of 90 runs from just 68 balls.

But once former captain Patel fell as he tried to add to his seven boundaries and four meaty sixes, all the last six batsmen fell like dominoes for only 23 runs from 36 balls – thus leaving 17 balls in their innings unattended to.

Batting Paradise

And in the afternoon, Uganda, who were playing in-front of arguably the biggest-ever crowd at Lugogo, started tentatively but built momentum on a wicket that has been full of runs throughout the tournament.

Ronak Patel, too, got a half century after Uganda skipper Brian Masaba (22 off 34) opened the batting for the first time in nine years and fell to Eugene Ochieng Odhiambo (3 wickets for 37 runs) while looking very comfortable.

“I thought the wicket didn’t give much to the bowlers in the afternoon as anticipated. We toiled and were unsuccessful. And I insist, it was not a bad toss to lose. Batting first was the right thing. We just didn’t get enough runs,” added the economical left-arm orthodox spinner who finished with figures of 0 for 31 from his full quota of 10 overs.

No final flourish

And as Kenya looked to end on a high, Hong Kong condemned them to their third loss of the tournament – a five-wicket loss to the Asians at the University Oval in Kyambogo. After Ngoche won the pre-match toss and chose to bat first, Kenya were not entirely in cruise control but steady and solid at 71 runs for 3 wickets after 20 overs.

David Obuya’s boys looked like they were going to consolidate their innings and build a defendable total, but Man of Match Yasim Murtaza claimed four scalps for just 26 runs in 8.3 overs and Ehsan Khan (3 for 27) turned over their arms for match-winning spells with very tidy spin-bowling that restricted them to 135 runs all out in 38.3 overs.

And when Ngoche looked to pull it back for Kenya with three prize wickets of experienced Jamie Atkinson (9), gifted Shahid Wasif (3) and explosive Babar Hayat (5) alongside two run outs, Trent Johnston’s men were five wickets down for 40 runs in 14 overs.

The Kenyans had rallied back into the game with their tails wagging and scenting a sweet win.

But Murtaza (38 runs from 44 balls) and half-centurion Aizaz Khan (59 runs from 79 balls) combined for 12 boundaries and three maximus in an unbeaten sixth-stand worth 97 runs from 120 balls.

Staying confident

“I am proud of how the boys came out there in the afternoon and tried to defend our small total,” a defiant in defeat Ngoche said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

“It is unfortunate that we were not able to break the sixth-wicket stand. But the boys really tried hard. Congratulations to Hong Kong for winning a very good game of cricket.”

Kenya head home knowing that their pride has been dented further and must shed some skin before the third round of games at International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s Cricket World Cup (CWC) Challenge League B from July 28 to August 15 in the British Channel Island nation – Jersey.

Obuya, Ngoche and Co. certainly still have their plates full with work to do!

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