Tikolo shines as Aces win again
With all of the previous matches played going to the team winning the toss, the Southern Stars could have been forgiven for thinking their luck had changed when they won it and sent Aces in to bat. It took until the fourth over for this to be confirmed with a wicket however, when the in form Alex Obanda (8) found himself trapped in front by Darshit Shah. 1-16, and when Mansukh Naran followed not long after for 4, caught by Jai Trivedi off Rajesh Bhudia with the score only on 20 they could have been forgiven for thinking that they might pull off an upset.
Enter Steve Tikolo. Renowned as one of the best batsmen Kenya has produced, Tikolo once again underlined his class as he set about dismantling the attack presented by the Southern Stars bowlers. If his 50 off 36 deliveries seemed quick, it was nothing to how he accelerated to 108 off only 22 more deliveries. His innings includen sixteen 4s and three 6s. Though he lost Amit Bhudia (35) along the way, Tikolo completely took the match away from Souths and even though he was eventually bowled by Rajesh Bhudia, his effort had helped his side to an imposing 179 for 5 in their 20 overs.
It was always going to be a big chase for the Stars, but for a while they kept themselves in the race. Kennedy Obuya lead well from the front with 50 off 38 deliveries but lacked support where it was really needed. Having put on 72 for the first wicket (Alpesh Bhudia - 29), Souths then saw a procession of wickets as Brijal Patel, Peter Kituku and Obuya all fell in quick succession to the ever incisive Nelson Odhiambo and unstoppable Tikolo.
Kanbis all-rounder Ramesh Mepani then got in on the act with a well timed 3-39, which though expensive, knocked the resistance out of the Stars' reply. Tikolo and Sagar Karia both picked up a brace as Stars continued to fold with the lone resistance once again coming from Stewart Kayne who with 19 not out off 9 balls can justifiably look to be pushed up the order after also being the unbeaten batsman in his team's last innings.
In the end, Stars folded for 145, some 34 runs short, but a vast improvement on their first game loss. Aces now face the Western Chiefs knowing that a win will confirm them as the premier side in Kenya's first ever National League. With the form that Tikolo and his bowlers are in, it would be a brave man to bet against them.