Kenya chase first victory: After shaky start, Kenyans face a side that defeated defending champs

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Tuesday, January 16th 2018 at 00:13 GMT +3 | Cricket
Keeper and Batsman Ankit Hirani of Team Kenya and Wicket Keeper Michael Aboagye (left) of Ghana during the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup Qualifier at Nairobi Gymkana Grounds on Saturday, July 01, 2017. [PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD]

Youngsters seek to bounce back to winning ways against hosts New Zealand.

Kenya will tomorrow face off with hosts New Zealand in their second Group A match in the ongoing International Cricket Council 2018 Under-19 World Cup.

The Kenyan boys will be seeking to bounce back from their disappointing start and chalk their first victory.

However, they face an uphill task against a home side that is in perfect form, having beaten defending champions West Indies by eight wickets in their first match.

Kenya, on the other hand, had a shaky start, losing by 169 runs to former winners South Africa.

For Kenya to have a realistic chance of getting past the more polished New Zealand side, they hope that opening batsman Aman Gandhi, regarded as one of the players to watch in the tournament, will rise to the occasion.

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Gandhi suffered a setback in their opening match after he sustained a minor injury after being hit by the ball.

Team coach Jimmy Kamande confirmed that Gandhi was given a clean bill of health and was ready for the match against New Zealand.

“Gandhi was hit by the ball, which affected his performance as well as our output, but he has been cleared and he is ready for our next assignment,” Kamande said on the phone from New Zealand.

Jasraj Kundi, who was outstanding for Kenya against South Africa, will also be out to stage another all-round performance. Kundi missed the half ton mark by nine runs and was also brilliant with the ball, taking two wickets for 49.

Team captain Sachin Bhudia, spinner Abhishek Chidambaran, and Jayant Mepani, who impressed against South Africa, taking two wickets, will also be out to leave a mark at the event.

Kamande is expected to put Maxwell Age to the test, while Gerald Mwendwa will be keen on impressing at the tournament.

Kenya’s top order batsmen will have to turn up for the job and deliver after failing to live up to their billing in their opening match. Rene Were and Sukhdeep Singh were a no-show, leading to Kenya’s early collapse, which forced the lower order to battle for more runs.

Kamande said they would be looking for a good start with the aim of playing better in the first 10 overs.

“We want to score more runs as well as bowl economically in the first 10 overs. If we can successfully make this work, then it will help us settle well into the game,” he added.

The middle order of Aveet Desai, Thomas Ochieng, and Bhudia will also be expected to steady Kenya's ship against their hosts.

Kenya must win tomorrow and revive their hopes of advancing to the next stage as they make a return to the global showpiece after a 16-year absence.

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