Explosive Kenya sink Dutch dreams
Bertus de Jong
Pre-tournament favourites the Netherlands were sent crashing out of the World Cup Qualifier by a blitzkreig kenyan batting dislplay. With ODI status on the line for both sides, Irfan Karim and Ragheb Aga led the charge, blinding the Dutch with a blistering partnership of 148 as Kenya overhauled the Netherlands' 265 runs inside of 36 overs.
The margin of victory was just enough to see Kenya edge past the Netherlands on net run rate into third place in Group B. The Netherlands team meanwhile find themselves out of the running for a World Cup berth, and Dutch in general cricket faces an uncertain future.
Having been invited to bat, the Dutch innings got off to an inauspicious start, Lameck Onyango dismissing opener Stephan Myburgh for a five-ball duck. Wesley Barresi and Eric Swarzcynski steadied the ship, rotating the strike as they built a steadily acceleratiing partnership that would take them to 136 by the 32nd over.
Szwarczynski eventually fell for 57, bowled by Hiren Varaiya, to be replaced by his Captain Peter Borren, whose 18 ball 28 injected some urgency into the innings. When Borren was caught and bowled by Thomas Odoyo with the score on 176, Michael Swart joined Barresi in the middle and the pair pushed on at a-run-a-ball to take the Dutch to 232 with 21 balls remaining.
Three wickets in the last four overs stymied the Netherlands attempts to finish with a flourish however, as Swart, Bukhari and Cooper perished in an attempt to up the scoring rate. Nonetheless with 265 on the board, Barresi finishing unbeaten on 137*, the Netherlands would have been confident taking the field.
For Kenya, a simple win was not enough, rather they faced the daunting prospect of chasing the total in 36.3 overs to overtake the Netherlands on net run rate, progress to the next stage of the tournament and secure their continuing ODI status. Their task was made harder when Bukhari bowled Alex Obanda in the fifth over, but Ifran Karim and Ragheb Aga charged on, racing to 50 by the seventh over -clearly well aware of what was needed.
From there things only got worse for the Netherlands, Karim and Aga both smashing 50s as the run-rate climbed above 7 an over. The pair seemed uncontainable as Kenya pushed past 150 in just 22 overs, with 115 more needed at 7.7 an over to see the Dutch beaten, knocked out and stripped of ODI status. Not one dutch bowler was going at less than 6 an over as the pair played chancelessly on, finding the gaps with clockwork regularity. By the time Aga was finally trapped LBW by Bukhari for 86 in the 25th over, their partnership of 148 had put Kenya within sight of salvation.
Kenya needed just 91 more runs from 12 overs as Collins Obuya came to the crease, and weren't about to let a wicket slow them down. Obuya and Karim took them swiftly on past 200, Obuya hitting Bukhari for what was, astonishingly, the first six of the innings from the last ball of the 29th over. By then the odds had swung decisively in Kenya's favour, and even Karim's dismissal in the 32nd over, having made 108 off just 84 balls, did little to staunch the flow of runs. Though wickets finally began to fall for the Dutch, Ahsan Malik picking up the wickets of Karim, Odoyo and Patel in successive overs, the steady hand of Steve Tikolo saw Kenya through to an unlikely triumph and, with three balls to spare, a ticket to the last six.
For Kenya, the story is that of a heroic last-ditch rescue of the ODI status that they have enjoyed for 18 years. For the Netherlands, already facing financial uncertainty, the result is nothing short of catastrophe.