Masakadza ton sets up huge victory
Zimbabwe 313 for 4 (Masakadza 156) beat Kenya 222 (Tikolo 49, Utseya 3-36) by 91 runs
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Hamilton Masakadza's career-best 156 set up Zimbabwe for a handsome 91-run victory in the first one-day international against Kenya. His mammoth effort helped the home side to an imposing 313 for 4 and the visitors never threatened to get close as Kyle Jarvis impressed on his debut.
Masakadza easily surpassed his previous best of 102 and gave the innings a tremendous late kick alongside Brendan Taylor as the pair added 97 in eight overs. Masakadza cleared the boundary six times in his 151-ball effort along with 11 fours as Kenya's attack was made to look thin.
To have any chance in the run-chase, Kenya needed a solid base, but lost wickets too regularly to form the sort of platform Zimbabwe enjoyed after Masakadza and Mark Vermeulen opened with a stand of 121 in 25 overs. Jarvis, the son of former Zimbabwe bowler Malcolm Jarvis who played five Tests and 12 ODIs in the 1990s, removed both openers and later returned to claim a third scalp.
Steve Tikolo top-scored with 49 but it was always in a losing cause as Zimbabwe's three frontline spinners throttled the scoring. The 30 overs between Ray Price, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer cost 107 runs and brought five wickets. Utseya collected three wickets against a middle order that had no choice but to attack, while legspinner Cremer impressed with his control.
Zimbabwe's performance was dominant from start to finish. After deciding to bat, they were quickly out of the blocks as the openers made good use of the fielding restrictions. It took until the 26th over for Kenya to make a breakthrough when Vermeulen was trapped lbw by Nehemiah Odhiambo.
For a while the visitors managed to hold back the scoring rate - Jimmy Kamande performing a decent holding role - but Masakadza continued to progress with few alarms. Kamande chipped in with the wicket of Charles Coventry, who hit an ODI record-equalling 194 in the previous series against Bangladesh, before Odhiambo claimed his second by removing Elton Chigumbura.
However, Masakadza was motoring by now and the scoring rate increased again during the closing overs. Taylor helped add impetus with 44 from 27 balls as he collected two sixes alongside the six struck by Masakadza, who was run out in the penultimate over.
It was hard toil for the Kenyan bowlers, none more so than Lameck Onyango, who conceded 91 from his 10 overs, the most expensive figures by a Kenya bowler in one-day internationals. On this evidence, they will do well to avoid the whitewash they suffered during the home series earlier this year.
Utseya praised the opening partnership of 121 between Masakadza and Vermeulen and was delighted with drawing first blood in the five-match series. "It was important to have a good start because playing catch-up in the series is not good," Utseya said. "Winning the first match eases pressure. Credit must go to Hami and Mark because it had been long since we had a good opening partnership."
However, he believed there were still room for improvement in the bowling department. "There are still four more ODIs to be played," Utseya said. "In cricket these days, every team attacks the bowlers in the first ten overs. It is however pleasing that they managed to take all wickets."
Kenyan captain Maurice Ouma onn the other hand, was disappointed with the team's effort on the field. "It's not the kind of start we would have wanted. But if you bowl like what we did today it will be hard for use to win matches in this series. My bowlers were not hitting the right lengths and spots, and they were punished. I'm sure they have learned their lesson and they are going to bounce back in tomorrow's match."