Canada beat Kenya by 25 Runs
The four day match contested at the Maple Leaf Cricket Club in King City was intense throughout, and the match was truly balanced on a knife-edge until the very end. When the dust had settled, Canada emerged victorious by 25 runs and jumped to the top of the Group B points table in the tournament.
Canada won the toss and chose to bat, hoping to get a good start to the match. They did not do particularly well at that, losing their first 4 wickets for just 60 runs and reeling at 102-7 at lunch. The saviour of Canada's first innings (and indeed, the match) was Qaiser Ali providing 91 runs from the 7th spot in the batting order and remaining until the end of the innings. The final wicket came when Puvendran Ravishankar skied a ball which was taken easily by Peter Ongondo (who also took 4 wickets for 49 runs).
Kenya then began their first innings hoping to make a good start and keep their wickets safe. Henry Osinde and Umar Bhatti had a different idea and they each took two wickets before the close leaving Kenya 14-4 at close and considering their chances the next day. As Canada the day before, Kenya's middle order bailed them out, Tanmay Mishra providing an unbeaten 83 and bringing Kenya painfully close to Canada's total. They were just 4 runs shy when Hiren Varaiya edged a ball, taken by Pubudu Dassanayake off the bowling of Umar Bhatti. This gave Canada a boost, as well as an important 6 bonus points in the standings given for a 1st innings lead.
Canada's second innings began much better than the first. Geoff Barnett and captain John Davison provided a first wicket partnership of 46 before Davison was retired and Canada reached 52-1 at the close of play. Barnett ended up putting up 136 runs, including a 112 run partnership with Ashish Baghai and Canada were looking dominant for the first time in the match sitting at 260-4. On this occasion, however, it was the lower order that failed the Canadian side. None of the last 6 batsmen managed to reach double digit scoring, and Canada slumped to 286 all out.
Kenya began pursuit of their target, 291, with 22 overs left to be played on the third day. Plenty of time for them to reach the target, or, for Canada to bowl them out. It seemed apparent at this point that, barring rain, there would be a result in this match. Once again Kenya lost both of their openers quickly, this time both to Bhatti, and sat at 21-2. Captain Steve Tikolo and Tony Suji stabilized though, and Kenya reached 45-2 at close. Throughout the fourth days play it was anyone's match, both sides taking advantages over one another at various points. John Davison only took a single wicket for the match, but it was an important one. He bowled Steve Tikolo on an even 50 runs, breaking up a 75 run partnership with Tony Suji that threatened to catch the Canadian total. Collins Obuya was close to playing hero on this day as he recorded 89 runs, but Umar Bhatti was to be the man today. Within 3 overs of the new ball being taken, Bhatti took 2 wickets. He took the final 4 wickets of the match, 6 in the innings, and 10 overall. The final out came when centurion Geoff Barnett took a neat catch in the slips to retire Collins Obuya giving Bhatti 10 wickets and setting off celebrations in King City. Man of the match honours were shared by Bhatti and Barnett for Canada.
The win is an important one coming off a disappointing trip to Trinidad earlier in the year. It also gave us the maximum 20 points in the Intercontinental Cup table and put us in a good position to move towards a berth in the finals. The crowds were good on the days I attended, and I even saw short highlight packages on CTV and CityTV News. Hopefully this is the beginning of a higher profile for cricket in Canada both in the media and in the public.
Up next are 2 ODIs against the Kenyans this coming weekend at the Toronto Cricket, Skating, and Curling club. Then the following weekend Canada resume their Intercontinental Cup campaign against Bermuda.