Northerns rip through Aces
Steve Tikolo's Eastern Aces may have gone into this game as favourites to win after their dominance in the 20-20 competition, but it took Nomads opening bowler, Josephat Ababu, just seven overs to overturn that expectation with a little help from Alfred Luseno. Bowling first after winning the toss, Nomads captain Thomas Odoyo opted to give Luseno and Ababu the new ball and was rewarded when Ababu trapped Mansukh Naran in front with the third ball of the second over. Four overs later, with only 11 more on the board, he induced a nick from the dangerous Alex Obanda and David Obuya held onto the catch behind the stumps. 5 balls later, it was Newton Muthee's turn, this time Luseno getting in on the act with Obuya again showing safe hands. Steve Tikolo, who was in blistering form in the 20-20s became Ababu's third victim when he was clean bowled for 1 and from 4-19, it was always going to be a mountain to climb for the Aces.
Jimmy Kamande didn't do his side's chances any harm when he had the potentially dangerous Ramesh Mepani well run out with the score on 26 and Nomads would have felt they were almost into what looked like a fairly long tail. Amit Bhudia and Lameck Onyango both tried to stick around long enough to get enough runs on the board, but in the end, Bhudia (19) came unstuck to Kenyan Under 19 Dominic Wesonga, who was the most expensive of the Northerns bowlers, but also picked up the wickets of Sagar Karia (1) and Harshil Sanghani in his third and final over to finish with 3-29. Luseno returned to complete his ten overs and in doing so clean bowled Nelson Odhiambo for a duck and then had the last man out, Onyango (15) caught by Odoyo.
Eastern Aces were all out for 80 in barely more than 20 overs and it was never going to be a total that their bowlers could defend. David Obuya (22) and Anand Gore (14) got the chase off to a solid start by putting on 41 for the first wicket. It was again a youngster, this time Elijah Otieno, that made the breakthrough getting the edge from Obuya to carry through to the keeper Naran. Nomads then suffered quite a serious mini collapse as Anand Gore followed the next over, bowled by Onyango, before Otieno repeated his first dismissal to send Mohammed Fazal packing for a duck. Onyango not to be out done trapped Jimmy Kamande (0) LBW in the next over and Nomads had suddenly lost 4-7 in 3 overs.
It was however to be almost their last throw of the dice. Thomas Odoyo came in and steadied the ship with Rakep Patel (11) and though Patel was needlessly run out by Amit Bhudia with the score on 63, Odoyo (13*) and Ababu (13*) were easily able to tick off the balance with Ababu fittingly taking the winning runs in the 28th over. Nomads had taken a while longer than the Aces to reach the total, but with so many overs to spare, it was in the end a comfortable victory and one that in effect now makes them the new favourites for the title.
Both teams will be happy with how their opening bowlers performed, but will no doubt want to put in some hard work on their batting. Aces especially will now have it reinforced that they cannot simply rely on Tikolo and Obanda to do the work for them. Both teams play their second matches next weekend, the Nomads against the Western Chiefs, the Aces take on the Southern Stars.