Kenya v Netherlands, Nairobi, 3rd day March 31, 2006

Tikolo leads Kenya towards safety

Cricinfo staff

Kenya 332 for 9 (Tikolo 186*) trail Netherlands 474 by 142 runs

Steve Tikolo showed why he is so highly regarded with an innings of determination and class to almost single-handedly steer Kenya towards safety on the third day of their Intercontinental Cup tie against Netherlands at Nairobi Gymkhana. His unbeaten 186 enable the Kenyans to creep past the follow-on target, and unless Netherlands can score quick runs tomorrow and bowl Kenya out in under two sessions, this match should end in a draw.

Although Tikolo stood firm throughout the day, it was only when he found an ally in Peter Ongondo (37) that Kenya looked remotely like avoiding the follow on. Coming together at 191 for 7 needing 325 to make Netherlands bat again, the pair added 123 for the eighth wicket and resisted all the Dutch threw at them. When it seemed they had done the almost impossible, Ongondo drove Daan van Bunge low to Mohammad Kashif to leave Kenya 11 short with two wickets to fall.

In the next over Rajesh Bhudia failed to beat Tom de Grooth's throw when he was sent back going for a second, and the Dutch celebrations gave the impression that they believed that was the key moment as the last Kenyan, Hitesh Modi, was not expected to bat having broken a finger on his left hand on the first day.

But Modi appeared, his hand heavily strapped, and, batting using only his right (top) hand, he held firm for 17 balls, even managing a single, as Tikolo milked the strike. The tension was hardly helped when the scoreboard missed a Kenya four.

Fittingly, it was Tikolo who, three overs from the close, ended any doubts by smashing Ryan ten Doeschate for a four and straight six off successive balls to ensure there was no follow on. It rounded off an epic six-hour effort by Kenya's captain.

Until the Tikolo-Ongondo stand, it had seemed as if Netherlands would continue the dominance they had shown on the first two days. There was early confusion when the resumption was delayed while the tarpaulins were cleared of water from overnight storms, and a further hold up when play was stopped after 15 minutes because the pitch was deemed to be too soft.

When the game eventually resumed, ten Doeschate made an immediate breakthrough when he forced Thomas Odoyo to play on, but attempting a return catch in his next over, ten Doeschate rammed his finger into the pitch and was forced to leave the field for lengthy treatment and an X-ray. A second bowling change again paid dividends when Ashish Karia aimed an overambitious shot at van Bunge and holed out to deep mid-on.

With only the tail left to partner Tikolo, that seemed to be that. But the real drama was yet to come.