The fall and rise of Kenyan cricket

Kenya national cricket team player Irfan Karim in past action. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Kenya men's cricket team posted mixed results during the Pearl of Africa T20 Tri-Nation Cricket tournament that concluded at Entebbe Cricket Oval in Entebbe, Uganda, last week.

Kenya lost to Uganda by six runs in the final that had a huge social media following. Kenya  triumphed in all the first leg matches of the tournament but fatigue took toll on the players in the return legs at the same venue.

In their opening leg on September 10, Kenya beat Uganda by 22 runs with Irfan Karim emerging man-of-the-match on 67 (54).

Other prolific players for Kenya were Gurdeep Singh and Rushab Patel. Kenya was back on the pitch on September 11, beating Nigeria by eight wickets with 49 balls left.

Stars of the encounter were Singh, Patel and Alex Obanda. Kenya had a rest day on September 12 and the players used the occasion to put their house in order.

Their effort was seen when they played Nigeria a day later, demolishing the west Africans by 61 runs.

Again, Karim scooped the man-of-the-match award on 58 (46). Obanda and Patel were great contributors for the winners in the encounter. Kenya took a rest day on September 14, but returned on the field the next day to a total nightmare.

Kenya lost to Uganda by four wickets with four balls left. Ugandan captain Simon Ssesazi also edged Karim to the man-of-the-match gong.

Kenya's woes continued on September 16 when incessant rains pounded Entebbe. Nigeria were leading by four wickets when the umpires stopped the game after court became rain soaked.

Despite the loss, Kenya still sailed to the final, where they played Uganda. The hosts were a better side in the final, winning by six runs with Frank Akankwasa emerging the best player.

Greatest contributors for Kenya in the final were Shem Ngoche, Karim and Singh. Uganda have now won five of their last seven outings against Kenya.

Despite the loss, many Ugandan fans were happy to see Kenya play competitive cricket again.

"Honestly, it has made me so happy to see the Kenyan side back in action after two years," Ugandan cricket pundit Isaac Lockett wrote on their federation page.

The outing by the men's national cricket team to Uganda is an indication that Kenya's Cricket Normalisation Committee is on a step toward the right direction.

Since the committee was formed, cricket in Kenya has taken off gradually and is slowly building momentum.

In June this year, the women's national team defeated Namibia in the Kwibuka T20 Tournament held in Rwanda.


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