A see – sawing Sir Ali Muslim Club ‘A’ travel to Peponi School this weekend to take on Stray Lions Cricket Club ‘A’ who are perched at the top of the table in the Super League Division of the ongoing 2021 Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) 50 – over League.
Stray Lions have lost to Sir Ali a couple of times in this format but never at home. Nithin Arvind is the only remaining member of the Stray Lions’ squad that lost to Sir Ali in November 2019.
Stray Lions are unbowed, despite being bowled out for the first time in five matches last week by Nairobi Gymkhana for only 136 runs in 30.3 overs, a match which skipper Hiren Varaiya now says is well behind them.
“We are looking forward to Sunday. They (Sir Ali) are a good, balanced side with their professionals so it will be a good contest. The wicket was a bit on the slower side last week, which Gymkhana used to their advantage so credit goes to their bowlers. At the same time, we didn’t adjust to the wicket and played bad shots that got us out. It was a really great effort from our bowlers to come and defend such a low total.” States Varaiya.
Opening batsman Alex Obanda has looked fearless at the top in both his innings so far while Praveen Kumar has provided cover and allowed the top order to play shots around him. Nithin Arvind and Krishna Katukala consolidate the top but with hits and misses that need to be converted as the League wears on.
Zimbabwean wicket keeper batsman Gary Chirumuuta has been prolific behind the stumps with 16 dismissals and while he has made starts with the bat supporting the middle order, he is yet to go big.
Centurion Shem Ngoche is still lounging in spinners’ paradise, leading the bowlers with 17 wickets from five innings. He has also been dependable with the bat for the Lions’ middle order, dismissed only once when they were bowled out.
With the jury still out on all – rounder Joseph Onyango’s return from injury, it remains up to Neil Mugabe and Gerald Mwendwa to score runs in the mid – lower card. Mwendwa has looked promising with the ball but 5 wickets and a best of 3/22 against Ngara is way below the potential the seaming all – rounder possesses. David Mutua looks to be solidifying his place in the team with seven wickets so far, including 3 – a – piece against SCLPS ‘A’ and Nairobi Gymkhana.
Star studded Sir Ali have been rowing the tides so far having bowled off with a home loss to Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Samaj (SCLPS) ‘A’, beat Nairobi Gymkhana ‘A’ and Ngara Sports Club ‘A’, lost to Kanbis Sports Club ‘A’ before coming back to hammer Obuya Cricket Academy last weekend in that order. They currently sit fourth in the ten – team competition with 12 points from their five matches.
While new signees Eugene Maneno and Tony Ochieng’ coming up slower than expected through the ranks, the overseas battalion of Irfan Ellahi with the ball and top order batsmen Siddarth Mhatre and Sandip Adole seem to have settled in the team and giving value for money with each match. Mhatre and Adole have a combined 151 runs from just three innings, including an unbeaten 76 from Mhatre against Obuya while Ellahi has picked 9 scalps from just four innings with a best of 4/36 against Ngara.
Skipper Gurdeep Singh is expecting some purchase after moving back to opening the batting without much success lower down after recording 78 in their opening match against SCLPS ‘A’. Singh will be banking on dependable batsman Zahid Abbas to get back on the board after missing out in the last match.
Hopefully, Abdul Rehman brings back his fiery bat power now that the wickets are trickling in as well.