NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 8 – Written off after a first round defeat and probably the huge wins that Uganda were registering in their last five matches, the Kenya Under-19 cricket team bounced back to book their world cup ticket, their first ever.
Kenya beat Uganda by seven wickets to qualify for New Zealand 2018, their first U19 World Cup in 16 years. They needed an emphatic win to secure a better run rate and they did exactly that.
The atmosphere at the Nairobi Gymkhana after the last ball of the match underlined the importance of the victory. Students who had jammed the grounds to support the team ran onto the pitch to celebrate with their heroes.
Apart from winning the toss, everything else went against Uganda upto the last ball of the match that was dislodged to the boundary for the winning runs by Thomas Ochieng.
After bowling out Uganda for 60 in 17.1 overs, Kenya were to score the required target of 61 in 9 overs to qualify for the global showpiece and they did that with three balls to spare.
With nothing to lose, Kenya began the chase on a high scoring 10 in nine balls before Aman Gandhi was bowled. Ochieng who was promoted to the opening slot in place of Dennis Musyoki added 16 in three overs with Sachin Bhudia.
With Kenya slightly behind the run rate, Bhudia tried to go for the big shots but was trapped lbw by Trevor Bukenya on 12.
Aveet Desai lasted in the crease for only four balls scoring seven before Uganda made it three down.
Kenya finally got a match winning stand in Ochieng and Ankeet Hirani who added an unbeaten fourth stand of 28 runs.
Hirani announced his arrival in the crease by hitting a huge six off Kenneth Waiswa. Ochieng too managed a six in his 22 balls 26 when he brilliantly hit Bukenya to the dugout.
Coach Jimmy Kamande who was part Kenya’s World Cup that reached the semi finals of the world cup was thrilled.
“We are back to the World Cup!”
“The players knew that they had nothing to loss and that they are going to do whatever they could to get close even if it’s not qualifying. And they did that in style,” Kamande said.
Having elected to bat, Uganda were caught flat footed as early as the third over when they were reduced had been reduced to 5 for 3 and never recovered.
After being reduced to 12 for 4 after 7.5 overs, they somehow looked poised to bounce back at 32 for 4 after 12 overs until when the loss of four wickets for no run saw them reduced to 32 for 8.
Less than 24 hours after announcing his arrival on the international arena with a man of the match performance, Maxwell Ager was once again the architect of Kenya’s good bowling at the top bagging two of the first three wickets.
After Gerald Mwendwa had picked up the second by reducing Uganda to 5 for 2, Ager made it 5 for 3 when he bowled Eddy Agaba for a three ball duck.
Mwendwa then made it 12 for 4 in the eighth over when he had Kenneth Waiswa for one.
Steven Waboswe and Siraje Nsubuga looked like they would revive the innings with a sixth wicket stand of 20 runs in five overs until Bhudia stroke with the dismissal of Waboswe in the 13th over.
Uganda went on to lose three more wickets for no run in seven balls to drop to 32 for 8.
Rogers Olipa and Richard Agamire put on 28 to pushing them to 60 . But Abishekh Chidambaran ended what could be a dangerous stay of Olipa dismissing him with his first ball.