Easts chase consecutive victories
Going on the form of last weekend, these two teams could well be the winners and wooden spoon recipients of Kenya's first National League. While Eastern Aces started the competition with a bang by beating the fancied Northern Nomads by 9 wickets, the Southern Stars fumbled their way to 57 all out in their own 9 wicket loss. This Saturday will see the Aces look to consolidate with a second win while the Stars try to pick themselves up and be competitive.
Key to the Eastern Aces will be two of the best batsmen Kenya has produced. One, Steve Tikolo the captain may be past his prime, but what he lacks in speed he more than makes up for in experience. The other, Alex Obanda has yet to truly prove himself for an extended period on the International scene, but is considered by many to be the heir apparent to Tikolo. Last week the pair showed why they are so respected by their opposition as they tore apart a very decent bowling attack indeed. If one or both of them get going again on Saturday, the Stars could be in trouble again.
The above is not to say that the Eastern Aces are a two man team. Far from it. Ramesh Mepani, Lameck Onyango, Nelson Odhiambo and Elijah Otieno all chipped in with the ball against the Nomads and will relish bowling to a line up that will be far from confident after last week's debacle.
If the Stars are to force an upset, much will depend on how their batsmen can turn form around in six short days. Nehemiah Odhiambo was the only player to get over 10 runs in the first match and really should be there to accelerate once a platform has been laid rather than have to build it himself. That said, there is plenty of talent in the side and Kennedy Obuya, Peter Kituku and Rajesh Varsani can certainly all bat. There may also be a case for moving Stewart Kayne and Amit Shukla up the order.
Assuming their batsmen do post enough runs to be competitive, the Stars bowling attack has plenty of balance. Odhiambo is a capable opening bowler and will be keen to prove his credentials as such to the national selectors. Darshit Shah and Amit Shukla are two of the highest wicket takers in the NPCA and with the spin options of Varaiya and Kayne, this should be a very strong bowling outfit.
Strong bowling outfit or not, Southern Stars can be expected to find the going tough against Tikolo, Obanda et al. After last week, they look the weakest of the four teams and it is hard to see them overturning that in just a week. Aces to win by 6 wickets or 50 runs.
Best form from Game 1:
Nelson Odhiambo 4-0-11-2
Alex Obanda 51*
Jai Trivedi 1.2-0-7-1
Nehemaih Odhiambo 17
Aces: Steve Tikolo
Stars: Kennedy Obuya
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