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Kenya on quest to gain spot in World Cup – and could cut it

Border cricket coach Frank Plaatjes is backing Kenya to win when they take on the Netherlands in their World Cup qualifiers at Buffalo Park on Friday and Sunday.

MISSILE LAUNCHER: Border fast bowler Sithembele Langa sends down a delivery during the match between Border Invitation and Kenya at Police Park yesterday afternoon. The Kenyans have been hard at it preparing for their impending battle against the Netherlands this weekend Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

A cracking match should be in store with the two World Cup hopefuls battling it out for supremacy and to give themselves an easier path into the showpiece event.

The sixth round match was set to be held at the Nairobi Gymkhana club grounds in Kenya, but was moved due to political uncertainty and security concerns ahead of the October 17 Presidential election re-run.

Kenya arrived in East London last week and have been hard at work training as well as playing two warmup games against Border Invitational sides in preparation for the main event.

“I am backing Kenya, but it should be a very exciting game,” said Plaatjes.

“Having played against them over the last two days as well as spent some time with them and forged some friendships we will definitely be cheering for them on Friday.

“Kenya has a really good team, they have a number quality players, but so do the Netherlands, so it should be a very exciting match.

“But in terms of preparation having two warmup games is ideal for Kenya, they have been able to get used to the coastal conditions and wicket as where they are from the wickets are a lot quicker.”

In both matches Kenya managed comfortable wins, however giving their players some time out in the middle will have been the most important aspect.

In the first match batsmen Rakep Patel (77) and opener Irfan Karim (42) got in some valuable practice and produced the best contributions while on the bowling front Shem Ngoche (3/36), Nehemia Odhiambo (2/8) and Dhiren Ghondaria (2/27) put in solid efforts.

In yesterday’s second match the whole bowling department put in a decent allround effort while Emmanuel Budi (3/31) and Pushpak Kerai (2/21) were the chief destroyers, while with the bat unbeaten efforts from Ghondaria (53) and Collins Obuya (38) comfortably got them over the line.

“It was important that we get acclimatised and used to the conditions so it was good to get down here early, I am happy so far and the guys have done well,” said Kenyan coach Thomas Odoyo.

“Getting this match practice was exactly what we needed and Kenya will now look to take this bit of momentum that they have built up into the two big clashes against the Netherlands.

“I think the team that does the basics well on the day will come out on top, it has been good to get used to the conditions but that won’t matter at all if we don’t do the basics well in the match and that is what we are striving towards.”

Kenya are currently fourth on the World Cricket League (WCL) Championship qualifying log, behind the Netherlands who are currently occupying the top spot, so these will be vitally important matches for Kenya’s qualification hopes.

“The guys are fired up for the game, we are aware of where we are on the log and we know what we need to do to make sure we qualify for the World Cup directly and not have to go through another qualifying stage,” said Odoyo.

“We have played them a few times and we actually have a very good record against them and we hope that will give us confidence for these games.”

These two international games will also be the perfect warmup for Buffalo Park to get ready for the eagerly anticipated Proteas v Bangladesh match which will be taking place on October 22.

“It is going to be great to have some international cricket at Buffalo Park, with it being school holidays hopefully there will be a few supporters out and about enjoying the day,” said Plaatjes. “It is also a nice build up to the Proteas playing here against Bangladesh later this month.”

The Kenya v Netherlands match will get under way at 10am on Friday, while Sunday’s starts at same time.