Zimbabwe 'A', having let themselves down against Denmark in the opening match of the Emerging Nations tournament, were hoping to regain their pride by beating the strongest of the visiting teams, Kenya, at Old Hararians Sports Club in Harare. Sadly, the match was ended by rain when very nicely balanced, Zimbabwe replying to Kenya's 225 with 93 for three in just under 20 overs. Had it been possible to apply the Duckworth-Lewis system, which requires a minimum of 25 overs to be bowled, Zimbabwe would have been well placed to win, as they needed only six more runs in 5.4 overs to win, as long as they did not lose another wicket.
The home side, whose policy is to rotate their players to give them all a chance, made six changes from the team that lost to Denmark. They also had a change of attitude, looking much more purposeful than they had the previous day.
Zimbabwe A put Kenya in to bat on winning the toss. Ravindu Shah was soon under way with a couple of confident strokes, but did not last long; in the third over he hit a low return catch to Bryan Strang off a slower ball and was out for six. When Francis Otieno, unrelated to the other opener Kennedy, played on off the first ball he received from Everton Matambanadzo, Kenya were 12 for two. Once again the side batting first found itself at a disadvantage, although the bowlers were getting little assistance from the pitch.
The team consolidated for a while until Steve Tikolo broke loose with two pulled leg-side fours off Strang, and then Otieno pulled and drove Evans for four and six in the next over, and following that a fine six over wide long-off. Rennie came on to bowl his left-arm spin, which is seen more regularly these days, especially when he is captain! He struck in his first over, having Otieno (33) caught at the wicket by Warren Gilmour down the leg side; Kenya were 84 for three in the 20th over.
Maurice Odumbe was quickly under way, driving Ray Price over mid-off for four; Tikolo pulled Rennie for a cracking boundary but then swung him to square leg again, where Dion Ebrahim dived to take a fine catch. He scored 41, but with Kenya on 97 for four, the innings was in the balance.
Odumbe and Hitesh Modi consolidated in a sound partnership, as they had done several times in the World Cup. They grafted for runs against the spinners, concentrating on ones and twos but keeping the scoring rate at about four an over. With ten overs left, they were just beginning to hit out more aggressively when Odumbe (37) slashed at Matambanadzo, coming back for a second spell, and Dan Peacock at third man took a good diving catch. The batsmen crossed, but without addition Modi (28) was bowled by a fine yorker from the same bowler, and Kenya were suddenly 163 for six.
Thomas Odoyo and Tony Suji found themselves as new batsmen together, but it didn't inhibit Odoyo, who immediately hit Strang high over midwicket for four. Odoyo was dropped at long-off, a hard chance, and then suffered cramp and called for a runner. Fours along the ground were hard to come by on the thick outfield, so there was much running as they tried to squeeze as many runs as possible out of the last few overs. Odoyo swung Matambanadzo over the square-leg boundary, and then bottom-edged a four past the keeper. He had less luck when he skyed a catch to long-leg Doug Marillier to be out for 18; Kenya 220 for seven.
In the last over, bowled by Strang, the action intensified. Martin Suji holed out to Peacock on the long-on boundary, and then brother Tony was bowled next ball, both wickets falling at 222. Then, off the final ball of the innings, Peter Ochieng was bowled to give Kenya a final total of 226. With Brijal Patel left on 3 not out. Strang and Matambanadzo took four wickets eachm for 35 and 40 respectively.
Zimbabwe A opened with Doug Marillier and Mark Vermeulen, who settled in without trouble. Paul Strang had mentioned the high quality of the Kenyan attack in their match against the Academy the previous year, but Martin Suhi and Ochieng did not appear to cause Marillier or Vermeulen any real trouble. Vermeulen as usual was soon playing his calm, elegant yet powerful strokes, and hit Ochieng for a lazy-looking six over extra cover. He hit a fierce chance to short extra cover that was put down, but it would have been a brilliant catch had it been held. Then he tried one shot too many, trying to cut a ball from Tony Suji that kept low, playing on off the bottom edge for 33, scored off 30 balls; Zimbabwe A 59 for one.
Immediately afterwards Marillier got away with a hook that flew off the top edge over the keeper's head for four. He then took over the role of main aggressor, pulling Suji fiercely several times in his next over. The bowler got his revenge in his next over, hitting the batsman pad-bat to gain an lbw verdict. Marillier scored 33, and the score was 72 for two.
Ebrahim, hero against Denmark, suffered a typical cricketing comedown, scoring only a single before snicking Tony Suji low to Odoyo at second slip, who juggled with the ball and then held it. With the score 75 for three, the match was in the balance.
Trevor Madondo hit his first ball high over the bowler's head for a two-bounce four, then sparred at and missed the next two balls. Gavin Rennie began slowly, but began to open up as the clouds lowered and a light rain began. The players tried to carry on, but were soon forced to give in to the elements, with the score on 93 for three after 19.2 overs (Rennie 12, Madondo 7).
The rain became heavier and it was soon likely that no more play would be possible. The umpires did check the pitch at 4.25pm, but discovered that some water had got under the covers on the bowlers' run-ups, and had no alternative but to declare the match over.