NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 16 – National cricket team head coach Thomas Odoyo is confident Kenya will overcome visitors Hong Kong when the two sides clash in an International Cricket Council (ICC) match on Friday and Sunday at the Nairobi Gymkhana.
It will be the first time Kenya is hosting an ICC event since July 2011 when they hosted the United Arab Emirates in the ICC Intercontinental Cup and the World Cricket League matches.
Speaking on Wednesday ahead of the fourth round of ICC World Cricket League Championship, Odoyo was optimistic Kenya will be among the top four nations to play in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
“As a country we’ve prepared well, I think we’ve done our best and yes we would have loved to have practice matches before but that didn’t happen. We have practiced harder and we are ready for the match,” Odoyo said.
“The team that does their basics well will basically carry the day and the boys need to be on the mark and cover their basics”, Odoyo added.
Kenya are currently fifth in the league standings on six points, three behind fourth placed Hong Kong and if Kenya wins both matches they will dislodge the Asian side in fourth position.
Odoyo will be banking on the inclusion of experienced Alex Obanda who is making a comeback after missing the third round of the ICC World Cricket League.
Coming from a successful Nairobi Provisional Cricket Association (NPCA) season, Obanda will be tasked to set a solid base for the rest of the Batsmen while Nehemiah Odhiambo and Nelson Odhiambo will lead the attack with Shem Ngoche commanding the run.
On the other hand, Hong Kong is coming to this match from a 2-1 One Day International match (ODI) win against Papua New Guinea and will heavily rely on the leadership of 24-year-old Babar Hayat.
Hong Kong coach Simon Cook acknowledged the efforts put into security in order to make the two cricket matches possible.
“We are very gratefully for all the support that the Kenyan cricket board and the ICC for getting us here and getting cricket back in Kenya. There’s a lot of infrastructure that’s gone into security which makes the decision to come here a lot easier and we appreciate all the time and effort that has gone into this,” the coach said.
“In terms of the series coming up we take a lot of confidence into these two games due to the past performances from Papua New Guinea. We feel we have prepared well under the circumstances and we are looking forward to getting going and hopefully it will be two good games and the result can come our way.”
Kenya had failed to host any international matches due to insecurity but with the Kenyan Government assuring the country was ready to host a World class event, the ICC returns to the country for the first time in five years.
The teams that are competing to qualify for the World Cup are Scotland, Namibia, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Hong Kong, UAE, and Kenya.