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March 3, 2009
Kenya's tour of South Africa as they prepare for the ICC World Cup Qualifiers concluded with two narrow defeats against Pretoria University and Easterns and a rousing 150-run win against a Northerns Invitation XI.
After winning the opening game against Easterns, Kenya appeared to be on course to beat Pretoria University when they reduced them to 129 for 8 chasing 187, but a ninth-wicket stand of 52 between two uncapped players, Marchant de Lange and Freddy Douglas, took Pretoria University to the brink of victory and they finally edged home with two balls to spare.
Maurice Ouma's 54 was the anchor as Kenya reached 185 for 6 in their return match with Easterns at Benoni, but again their bowlers let them down and Easterns cruised home by five wickets with more than 20 overs in hand.
Against a weak Northern Invitation XI, Ouma's second half-century was overshadowed by Kennedy Otieno's belligerent 163-ball 189 which included nine sixes. The pair put on 242 for the first wicket as Kenya rattled up 308 for 4. The home side made pedestrian progress and were beaten long before they were bowled out for 158.
The matches have helped Kenya acclimatise but there remain serious questions over both the batting and the bowling. The batting still appears to be brittle and struggles to score runs at anything like the required rate, while the bowlers overly reply on a few bits and pieces players who, under pressure, fall apart.
In less a month Kenya will be back in South Africa for the main event. They will need to be more consistent than this if their bid to win through to the 2011 World Cup is to be anything other than a real struggle.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches