Batsmen seal series for Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe 271 for 4 (Mutizwa 79, Taylor 60, Vermeulen 56) beat Kenya 270 for 8 (Ouma 58, Obuya 49, Utseya 4-46) by six wickets
Zimbabwe won the battle of the bats in Harare to take the series after going up 3-1 against Kenya. The series win was their second over the same opposition this year. Zimbabwe were boosted by a collective batting display, with each of their top five batsmen making important contributions, as they chased down a challenging target with ease. Three of their batsmen - Mark Vermeulen, Forster Mutizwa and Brendan Taylor - struck half-centuries to see them home by six wickets with two overs to spare.
With a stiff task ahead of them, Zimbabwe were given a strong start when the in-form Hamilton Masakadza knocked 23 in an opening partnership of 30. Vermeulen and Mutizwa then seized control, adding 111 at better than a run-a-ball. Nehemiah Odhiambo brought an end to the stand, dismissing Vermeulen for 56, but a solid foundation for a successful chase had been laid.
If Kenya sensed an opening with Vermeulen's dismissal, they were thwarted by Brendan Taylor, who supported Mutizwa in a solid partnership. Despite the fall of a wicket, the scoring rate remained healthy. Mutizwa struck six fours and a six in a stand of 79, and added 47 with Taylor before being trapped lbw by Lameck Onyango.
Taylor then took up the responsibility of anchoring the innings, and Stuart Matsikenyeri, one of the mainstays of the Zimbabwe line-up, continued the good work. There was little aggression in his knock, but the scoring remained unhindered; he struck just two boundaries in his 39-ball 37. Taylor, too, worked it around; only 16 runs of his better-than-a-run-a-ball 60 came in fours. By the time Matsikenyeri was castled by Odhiambo, Zimbabwe's task was a mere formality and Taylor ensured the game was sealed with no fuss.
Zimababwe had been set such a tall target chiefly due to Maurice Ouma's run-a-ball half-century, which had led Kenya's batting effort.
Kenya were well placed at 190 for 3 in the 40th over, with Ouma and Rakep Patel adding 86. But legpsinner Graeme Cremer struck twice in two overs to dismiss the two settled batsmen. Kenya slowed down a touch before Thomas Odoyo, coming at No. 8, smashed 30 off 17 balls to lift the total.
Kenya were given a confident start by their openers David Obuya and Alex Obanda, who put on 64 in 12 overs before Obanda edged one off Ray Price for 33. Three overs later, Prosper Utseya took the first of his four wickets, catching Steve Tikolo off his own bowling. Obuya and Patel ticked along at under four an over till Utseya trapped Obuya one short of his fifty.
Zimbabwe would have expected to keep Kenya to 250 when they broke the Ouma-Patel stand. However, Odoyo's violent hitting - three fours and two sixes - ensured 73 runs were scored off the last eight overs, but the effort, in the end, was in vain.