Kenya began their World Cup preparation with a convincing win in a warm-up match against Afghanistan at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground in Dubai. Steve Tikolo scored an unbeaten century and Kenya posted 289, a total that proved too much for Afghanistan.
Tikolo is Kenya's most experienced player, having played in every single one of their World Cup matches since they made their debut in 1996, and the team will be glad to see him show some form. Tikolo scored 126 not out off 126 balls, with 12 boundaries and two sixes, batting through from the fourteenth over till the end.
After Seren Waters was bowled by Hamid Hassan off the second ball of the match, Collins Obuya scored a quick 49, and then Tikolo and Tanmay Mishra put together 103 for the fourth wicket. Wicketkeeper Maurice Ouma added 33 off 35 balls as Kenya reached a strong total.
Afghanistan's chase got off to a brisk start, but was derailed by the loss of three wickets within the first ten overs. Seamer Peter Ongondo took two of the early wickets, and Afghanistan found themselves 48 for 3. Nawroz Mangal steadied the innings with his 42 off 64 balls, and then Mohammad Nabi upped the scoring rate with his 46 off 35.
Afghanistan were able to stay abreast of the asking rate, but lost too many wickets. Kenya's spinners did the damage for them. Captain Jimmy Kamande took 3 for 34 with his offspin, while left-arm spinner Shem Ngoche also took three wickets, though he was expensive, giving away 76 runs in his nine overs.
Kenya managed to bowl Afghanistan out in 43 overs, and notched up a 49-run victory.
Jimmy Hansra's nerveless unbeaten half-century helped Canada complete an impressive four-wicket victory over Associate rivals Netherlands at the ICC Global Cricket Academy Ground in Dubai.
His unbeaten 54, from 85 deliveries, ensured Canada's chase recovered after a faltering start. In pursuit of a modest 152 for victory, Hiral Patel fell to the first ball of the innings from Mudassar Bukhari. The same bowler struck twice more, removing World Cup veteran John Davison and Ruvindu Gunasekera cheaply before captain Ashish Bagai stopped the rot together with Zubin Surkari. They laid the platform for Hansra to finish the job.
At the start of the day, Netherlands were the stronger team on paper, but Canada made full use of winning a good toss by reducing them to 43 for 4 after opting to field first. The evergreen Khurram Chohan did the early damage, removing both openers - including the touted Worcestershire star Alexei Kervezee - cheaply, before more top-order wickets fell.
The lower order - in the shape of wicketkeeper Atse Buurman, Bradley Kruger and Bukhari - backed up a bright 41 from 49 balls from Tom de Grooth to drag Netherlands up to 151, which looked competitive, until Hansra's heroics.
An unbeaten half-century by Brendan Taylor helped Zimbabwe make light work of chasing Ireland's total of 204 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Taylor played the anchor role, scoring 84 off 121 balls, as Zimbabwe needed just 43.5 overs to pick up a six-wicket win.
They had managed to restrict Ireland to a low total thanks to their spinners. Offspinner Greg Lamb took 3 for 30 in his 10 overs, while Ray Price and Graeme Cremer took three wickets between them and were both economical. Ireland had got off to a solid start, with opener William Porterfield scoring 66 and Ed Joyce getting 45. They were 111 for 1 at one stage, but lost wickets quickly once the spinners came on and were bowled out in 48.1 overs.
Craig Ervine was the other positive to come out of Zimbabwe's batting performance, scoring 47. Taylor has been Zimbabwe's most prolific batsman over the past two years, but ran into a poor patch of form during their ODI series in Bangladesh, and will be glad to have got some runs under his belt ahead of the World Cup.