On fire Tikolo helps Aces clinch title
Steve Tikolo backed up his 108 on Saturday with another quick fire half century as the Eastern Aces wrapped up top spot in the newly formed national league with a convincing 61 run win over the Western Chiefs at the Nairobi Gymkhana ground. Winning the toss and batting first, the Aces once again lost opener Newton Muthee cheaply. He had started well stroking consecutive boundaries off Peter Ongondo, but came unstuck to the Moses Otieno who had him caught by Jadavji Jesani with the fourth ball of his first over.
For the next hour, it was then once again the Tiklo and Obanda show as Kenya's two finest batsmen put on 60 for the second wicket. Both players were at ease turning the scoreboard over with ones and twos and dispatching the bad balls to or over the ropes. Obanda (38), the more circumspect of the two, finally came to grief when he was deceived by Harish Varsani with youngster James Ngoche taking the catch. Ngoche then came in for some punishment of his own as Steve Tikolo latched onto his off spinners taking 28 off his second over with four towering sixes.
Ngoche, who is still at school and so still has much time to develop his game, received consolation of sorts when he held onto his second catch of the day to send Tikolo back to the pavilion off the bowling of Tony Suji, but by then the damage had been done and the Aces captain had notched up 51 off just 37 deliveries. Amit Bhudia perished the next over when he was run out for 13 off 19, but some lusty hitting by Charles Obuya (15* off 10) and Ramesh Mepani (24* off 9) was enough to carry their team to an imposing 4-160.
It was always going to be a tough chase and it only got tougher when David Maina was run out without facing by Ramesh Mepani off the first ball of the innings. Inspired opening spells from Lameck Onyango and Elijah Otieno then kept the pressure on the as the Chiefs slipped to 3-11 within the first five overs. Otieno struck with his very first delivery to have Jadavji Jesani caught by Mepani for 1 and then Onyango trapped Tony Suji in front for 2.
Ken Migai, who has struggled for form so far in the shortest version of the game added a laborious 10 off 28 before he edged one to the keeper off Charles Obuya and Chiefs were really in trouble in terms of both wickets down and the required run rate ever increasing. Pritesh Lalji (18 off 25) and Peter Ongondo tried to rebuild, but the scoring was simply not quick enough and by the time Muthee had Lalji run out, Chiefs needed 15 runs an over for victory. Ongondo did his best to rally his team, but it was too little, too late and when he and Prakash Pindolia were dismissed in consecutive balls by Harshil Sanghani, Easterns could start celebrating.
The under 19 trio of Nilesh Jesani (10 off 12), Moses Otieno (9* off 8) and James Ngoche all got a useful bit of experience under their belts before the trip to Uganda to take on the MCC, but by the time they came to the crease the match was to all intents and purposes over. Chiefs closed the innings on 99, some 61 runs adrift of the Aces who finish convincing winners of the 20-20 stage of the league and take home 150 000 Kenya shillings in prize money between them. Northern Nomads will split 70 000 shillings for finishing second, while the other two teams will have to look for their rewards once the 50 over tournament starts on Saturday.