ICC Intercontinental Cup

Hard-working Kenya can make up for recent disappointments

Kenya heads into this week's ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007/08 match against Canada at Gymkhana, Nairobi determined to improve on their performances at the recent ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa

James Fitzgerald

The Canada squad currently on tour in Africa where it will play ICC Intercontinental Cup matches against Kenya and Namibia © Eddie Norfolk
Kenya heads into this week's ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007/08 match against Canada at Gymkhana, Nairobi determined to improve on their performances at the recent ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa.
While the more sedate four-day format presents a very different challenge to the frenetic Twenty20 version, there are some areas that the players will know must be improved when they turn up on Friday if they are to overcome a side that has made it to the final in two of the three years this competition has been held.
"We have upped our physical training a good deal since the World Twenty20," said interim coach Alfred Boi Njuguna, who has temporarily taken over the reins from national coach Roger Harper, who stood down at the end of September.
"It was not a very good tournament for us and one of the things we identified from it was that our fielding was not where it should be and our fitness levels could be improved. So the players have been working very hard on that.
"Overall, I am very, very happy with the progress being made within the team and we are confident that if we play to our potential, we will give Canada a good run for their money," said the former Kenya player who has been a member of the coaching set-up of the national side for several years.
The home side has a couple of young faces in the squad for this match with top-order batsman Alex Obanda (19), strike bowler Alfred Luseno (25) and accurate medium-pacer Elijah Otieno (19) all getting the call up to the senior ranks. Among those who will not be there is 20-year-old batsman Tanmay Mishra who is unavailable for personal reasons.
"Tanmay is a loss for us but these young players are very hungry and they look to me like they are ready for the big challenge of taking their game to the next level," said Njuguna.
For its part, Canada will be without a few familiar faces for the game, not least skipper Ashish Bagai who has work commitments. His place as captain will be filled by experienced all-rounder Sunil Dhaniram in a side that is also missing the likes of Kevin Sandher and Steve Walsh.
But in Henry Osinde and Umar Bhatti Canada has as dangerous an opening bowling attack as there is in Associate cricket and this game is an opportunity for some lower-profile players to make names for themselves. Krunalbhai Patel, Calvert Hooper, Aftab Shamshudeen and Jason Patraj will be itching to get out there and cement places in the starting team.
Vice-captain Qaiser Ali, Mohammed Iqbal and Bhatti have all been in the runs of late, not to mention Dhaniram himself, so the two-time finalists will not be short on confidence themselves against a side that has never really shown its full potential in this competition since its inception in 2004.
After this game, Canada will move on the Windhoek where it will take on Namibia in another ICC Intercontinental Cup match from 25 to 28 October. Having already played two matches in this year's event, Canada is currently in third position in the table, three points behind defending champion Ireland and a further five behind leader the Netherlands, which has played one game more.
But with 20 points available for an outright victory, Canada could finish the match comfortably top of the log.
This is Kenya's first outing of the 2007/08 campaign and it will know that a strong home performance is required if it is to launch a serious challenge in this year's ICC Intercontinental Cup, an event that has so far only been won by teams from Europe.
The umpires for the Kenya v Canada match will be Buddhi Pradhan from Nepal, of the ICC Associates and Affiliates Umpires International Panel, and Marais Erasmus an official from Cricket South Africa.
The ICC Intercontinental Cup has quickly grown in stature and profile since its inception three years ago and now ICC's premier first-class tournament is an integral part of the Associate Members' cricket schedule.
Having previously been designed around a two-group, three-day format, the event has evolved into an eight-team, round-robin and truly global tournament featuring four-day cricket which gives those teams who do not play Test cricket the chance to experience the longer form of the game.
Scotland won the first ICC Intercontinental Cup in 2004, beating Canada in the final, while Ireland has been victorious in both events since then, beating Kenya in the 2005 decider and Canada earlier this year in the 2006-07 event.
The final of the ICC Intercontinental Cup 2007/08 will take place in November 2008 at a venue yet to be decided.
Kenya squad: Steve Tikolo (captain), Thomas Odoyo, Alex Obanda, Collins Obuya, Peter Ongondo, Nehemiah Odhiambo, Maurice Ouma, Elijah Otieno, Hiren Variaya, David Obuya, James Kimande, Tony Suji, Lameck Onyango, Alfred Luseno.
Canada squad: Sunil Dhaniram (captain), Henry Osinde, Umar Bhatti, Arvind Kandappah, Calvert Hooper, Aftab Shamshudeen, Durand Soraine, Qaiser Ali, Abdul Jabbar Chaudrey, Krunalbhai Patel, Jason Patraj, Trevin Bastiampillai, Ashif Mulla, Mohamad Iqbal.
Umpires: Marais Erasmus and Buddhi Pradhan.

James Fitzgerald is ICC Communications Officer