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January 31, 2009
The series had already been won but Zimbabwe did not take it easy in the fourth ODI against Kenya in Nairobi, beating the hosts by 66 runs to secure their fourth straight win. Their batsmen showed resilience, recovering from a top-order wobble, and aggression to accelerate towards 285 for 8. Defending a sizeable total, Zimbabwe's bowlers tied Kenya down at the start of the chase and struck regularly to ensure victory despite Alex Obanda's unbeaten 96.
Kenya had to chase 300-plus totals in the first two ODIs but it seemed as though their target today would be manageable, after their bowlers had Zimbabwe at 168 for 6. Prosper Utseya and Forster Mutizwa rallied for the visitors, scoring quick half-centuries in a 107-run partnership for the seventh wicket. Zimbabwe took 67 runs off the final five overs, and finished with a target beyond Kenya's means.
However, Zimbabwe had to overcome several jolts to reach a match-winning score. Vusi Sibanda was lbw early, missing a straight one from Peter Ongondo, after they chose to bat. However, Hamilton Masakadza, who began the match with three boundaries in the first over, proceeded to take charge and dominated a 50-run stand for the second wicket. He cut loose against Rajesh Bhudia, smashing the medium-pacer for two straight fours and a six in the tenth over. His partner, Stuart Matsikenyeri had contributed only 9 to the partnership when he skied a pull towards third man and was caught by Ongondo.
Nehemiah Odhiambo then struck a crucial blow for Kenya by yorking Masakadza for 58. Zimbabwe began to slip, losing Malcolm Waller for a first-ball duck. Sean Williams and Elton Chigumbura repaired the innings with a 68-run stand but their work was undone when both batsmen were dismissed in quick succession to leave Zimbabwe on 168 for 6.
However, any hopes Kenya might have harboured of chasing a reasonable target were dashed by Utseya, who scored 51 off 47 balls, and Mutizwa, who smashed 61 off 45. The batsmen bided their time, waiting until the last five overs before beginning their assault. Utseya made the first move, launching Collins Obuya for two sixes - over midwicket and long-on - in the 46th over. Mutizwa went after Hiren Varaiya in the next, hitting the first ball to the straight boundary for four and smashing the final two deliveries of the over beyond the boundary.
Faced with a formidable target, Kenya chose the slow and steady approach. Their openers, Kennedy Otieno and Seren Waters, added 50 but the asking-rate escalated because it took them 15.3 overs to do so. It was imperative that the set batsmen continue to steer the innings but Chigumbura dismissed both openers in successive overs, leaving Kenya rattled at 57 for 2.
The slide continued thereafter with wickets falling steadily at one end. Chigumbura made telling blows, finishing with 4 for 28, while legspinner Graeme Cremer cut through the middle order with 3 for 34. At the other end, however, Obanda remained firm. He too was cautious in the beginning, scoring only 27 off his first 50 balls, but opened out once he saw his team-mates falling. Obanda struck five sixes and seven fours in his 96 off 93 balls but eventually ran out of partners and was left stranded, four short of his maiden ODI century.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Shorter tours don't allow you time to get into form, and domestic cricket isn't demanding enough