Lions pull heist against Kanbis to go top!

Stray Lions Cricket Club ‘A’ scraped home in a thrilling finish against Kanbis Sports Club ‘A’ in Sunday’s clash of the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Super League at Peponi School.

Tail-ender Gerald Mwendwa (17) shared a last-wicket stand of six runs with last man Hiren Varaiya, who made two not out, but was crucial in defending against the Kanbis bowling attack to secure a one wicket win.

They stayed together for seven balls when Mwendwa pushed a ball at Point to hit the winning runs after the visitors had threatened to run away with a remarkable victory.

Having restricted Kanbis for 249, Stray Lions looked set to inflict a humiliating defeat on their visitors when they cruised to 1-122 into the 21st over, but some superb bowling by Rajesh Bhudia (2-56) and Emmanuel Bundi (4-47) breathed new life into the contest.

Bundi’s magnificent bowling effort in both spells meant Kanbis left the match with their pride and confidence intact, despite looking shot after a powerful performance by Stray Lions’ batting led by Alex Obanda and Krishna Katukala.

The results meant that the Thika Road based side moved back to the summit of the 10-team League with 28 points from 8 matches while Kanbis are second with 24 points, four behind Swamibapa who have a match in hand.

Bundi claimed his wickets in two bursts, twice plunging Stray Lions’ innings into chaos. He first removed opener Praveen Kumar in the third over with the board on 21.

After Kumar, Bundi came back in the middle of the innings to remove Katulaka when the home team were trying hard to rebuild after being reduced to 4-141 from 3-122.

Emmanuel Bundi was on song for Kanbis with 4/47

He went on to get Nithin Arvind (1) and the prize wicket of danger man Charith Jayampathi (28) to leave them needing one wicket with five runs required by the hosts.  

Skipper Dhiren Gondaria would have sealed the match for his side had wicketkeeper Rakep Patel held to a catch off Varaiya a ball after Jayampathi had been caught at deep midwicket.

“Kanbis bowled outstandingly well and made it very difficult for us,” Varaiya said. “Bundi was superb and swung the ball throughout the innings.

“In a league like this it doesn’t really matter how you get across the line as long as you do it and it was a bit tough than we expected but nice to get the win.”

Immediate former skipper Rajesh Bhudia had to come in to cool the situation after Alex Obanda had given his side a decent start. By the time Bhudia came in, Obanda had raced to his maiden half ton of the season in just 32 balls before opting to change his batting by anchoring the innings with singles.

With the board on 102 after 17 overs, Bhudiya took over and dried the runs before breaking what was looking like a threatening second wicket stand of 47 between Obanda and Katukala when he had Obanda caught at wide long on attempting his sixth maximum. Apart from his five sixes, his 57 balls 67 also consisted of four boundaries.

Gary Chirimuuta was the second wicket for Bhudiya when he had the Zimbabwean wicket keeper batsman caught behind on 11 off 15 balls.  After losing their opening stand in the third over with the board on 21, the hosts put on 54 for the second wicket between Obanda and Neil Mugabe (16) before Obanda and Katukala got the score to 122.

While the total of 249 put on by Kanbis mainly courtesy of Pushpak Kerai’s 50 and Bhudiya’s unbeaten 49, looked like a good daunting task for the hosts, Kanbis’ skipper Gondaria felt the score wasn’t enough for his team.

“We backed ourselves all the way in but we fell 30 or 40 runs short. We started well and were destined for a 300 plus score,” the opener said. “Full credits to the Stray Lions’ bowlers,  they came back strongly and put on some good spells in the middle overs all the way to the end.

Kanbis started off well with Gondaria (28) and Kerai putting on 50 in exactly seven overs before the introduction of spinners turned things in the hosts’ favour.

Shem Ngoche removed Gondaria off the last ball of the seventh over to pave way for a 74 run – second wicket stand between Kerai and Patel (46). Varaiya broke the stand by having KErai caught and bowled in the 20th over.

Nelson Odhiambo and Patel added 26 to the third wicket before the former was run out. Sachin Bhudia (12) and Ramesh Mepani (2) didn’t last in the middle for long, only adding 24 runs between them to leave Kanbis on 174 for 5 after 34 overs.

Six balls later, David Mutua got the prize wicket when he had Patel caught after hitting four boundaries and a six off 66 balls. Mutua added Bundi to his scalp list by clean bowling him for two.

While Bhudiya was offering a lot of resistance in the dying stages of the innings with his 48 – ball 49, Katukala was cleaning the tail to finish with 4-41.

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