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Kenya in Bangladesh - Preview
14 Mar 2006
By: Liam Camps


The minnows of limited overs cricket against the minnows among Test playing nations. This basic premise considered carefully, the upcoming series between Bangladesh and Kenya probably would not sell many tickets if not for the fanatical support attached to Bangladeshi cricket.

It is a clash of the lesser powers of world cricket, and yet an essential series from the perspective of both sides. Kenya has been struggling to organize international competition in recent times, and the lack of match practice was most evident in a questionable recent performance against Zimbabwe. The Kenyans drew that series at 2 games apiece, but blended outstanding performances with infuriatingly poor cricket.

Bangladesh may have lost 2-1 and 2-0 against Sri Lanka, but the one win would surely inspire great confidence ahead of this meeting. Any international victory is a great achievement for Bangladesh, no less against one of the better teams in Sri Lanka.

The Players:
Kenya: Steve Tikolo (C), Kennedy Otieno (wk), James Kamande, Alfred Luseno, Tanmay Mishra, Hitesh Modi, Nehemiah Ngoche, Thomas Odoyo, Collins Obuya, David Obuya, Peter Ongondo, Maurice Ouma, Kalpesh Patel, Martin Suji, Tony Suji.

Bangladesh (likely): Habibul Bashar (C), Khaled Mashud (wk), Mohammad Ashraful, Mohammad Rafique, Javed Omar/a>, Nafis Iqbal, Enamul Haque jr., Shahriar Nafees, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Alok Kapali, Aftab Ahmed.

Four ODIs and there is not much between these teams except for the variable of match practice. Kenya lacks it, while Bangladesh have had a steady diet of cricket. Both teams offer a keen sense of unpredictability and the ability to occasionally rise to a grand challenge, meaning that this series can go either way. That's the calculated prediction anyway.

There may not be much to sell this series before hand, but there is bound to be some interesting cricket from both sides. The odds suggest it. Both teams possess quality players, most notably captains Steve Tikolo and Habibul Bashar - respectively their teams biggest batting threats. Added, the likes of Bangladesh's Mohammad Ashraful and Kenya's Kennedy Otieno must not be forgotten.

On both sides too there are exciting bowling prospects. Legspinner Collins Obuya returns to the Kenyan side for the first time since 2003, the year that he made such a memorable impact at the World Cup. Having been coached by the renowned Terry Jenner in the time since, his return is certainly an eagerly awaited one.

For Bangladesh, Syed Rasel and Shahadat Hossain have emerged as true talents. The former has never played an ODI match, but a five-for in the second Test against Sri Lanka may change that. Rasel has enjoyed a pleasant start to his limited overs international career, with 8 wickets at 28.62 and good economy of 4.40, and he played an essential role in Bangladesh's maiden ODI win over Sri Lanka.

There are no superstars in either team, but the attraction of the potential for one to emerge is the selling point of a low key series.

Cricket Web's Players To Watch:

Kenya - Collins Obuya
Working with sharp bounce and a bit of turn, Collins Obuya made a name for himself at the 2003 World Cup in Africa. The legspinner was 21 at the time and bowled Kenya to an historic victory over Sri Lanka at Nairobi. Feeding off the energy and enthusiasm of his team-mates and the home crowd, Obuya contributed further to the electric atmosphere with a haul of 5 for 24. Sri Lanka managed just 157 in the chase of 211 for victory.

The result was substantial not just for the manner in which Kenya had outplayed the Sri Lankans, but in that it ensured the African team a place in the second round of the tournament for the first time ever. The journey continued all the way to the semi-finals.

Aside from that glorious day, however, Collins Obuya has found success hard to come by at the highest level, and in 27 other matches, his 20 wickets have come at a cost of 55.05 each and an economy rate of 5.21. There will be certain interest to see how he progresses following his stint under Jenner.

Bangladesh - Mohammad Ashraful
He is the "it" kid for Bangladesh these days. Mohammad Ashraful is the name on everyone's lips when discussing Bangladeshi cricket. Those who witnessed his century against Australia in the 2005 Natwest Series would scarcely doubt why.

Ashraful's exciting strokeplay and genuine flair lit up Cardiff on that day, in Bangladesh's first and lone ODI victory over Australia. Inconsistency continues to frustrate, but the potential for a world class player is always refreshingly present. A veteran of 62 ODIs, Ashraful is still only 21 years of age, and has the form of two half-centuries in his last 2 ODI innings against Sri Lanka followed by a superb 136 in the first Test against the same opposition.

Mohammad Ashraful now looks to be in the form of his career. Kenya would do well to contain him if his recent promise of a breakthrough is to be believed.

---

Bangladesh and Kenya have met seven times in past years. Kenya has trumped the Test nation on six occasions of the seven. Kennedy Otieno (340 runs @ 56.66) and Steven Tikolo (243 runs @ 40.50 and 10 wickets at 15.00) lead both teams in runs scored, and have enjoyed great success against the Asian side. This summation states Bangladesh hardly have bragging fodder from previous meetings in terms of team results as well as individual performances.

The two teams have not met since the last World Cup, and Kenya has played substantially less cricket than Bangladesh since then. Bangladesh consequently poses a far better side than the 2003 version, and is now one with much higher expectations to meet.

If history is to be believed, it would be an upset for Bangladesh to even win a game in this series. If history were honest, however, cricket would hardly be the sport we love to watch.

Kenya in Bangladesh

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