Sikh Union shocked with pitch behaviour

Sikh Union Sports Club ‘A’s opening batsman Himanshu Dixit was disappointed by the way his side crumbled against Stray Lions Sports Club ‘A’ on Sunday, finding themselves all out for 114 runs thanks to youngster Gerald Mwendwa’s mastery with the ball.

The match at Peponi School saw Mwendwa take four wickets as the visitors were blind-sided by a track they assumed would be batter friendly in the morning, like it had been in the past.

Instead, the ground assisted the seamers before the spinners came into the party later on in the innings to gift the hosts a seven – wicket win.

The result saw Stray Lions end the first round of the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Super League just as they begun, with a top spot despite the absence of its four key players

Dixit said: “The wicket was completely different. We anticipated it to skid on as it has done right throughout every game that has been played here and every team that has won the toss has wanted to bat first.”

“We expected that to happen but it played differently. There were some soft dismissals, poor options, myself included and we couldn’t find the balance between being aggressive enough to get us a start and conserving wickets and trying to stem the flow of their momentum.”

Even with the absence of spin duo skipper Hiren Varaiya and the League’s top wicket – taker Shem Ngoche, the home team’s bowlers put on a brilliant performance to bowl out their hosts in 30.3 overs.

In reply, the home team recovered from 1 for 0 to seal the victory with seven wickets in hand in 22. 4 overs.

Mwendwa and spinner Jimmy Kamande played a key role, with the latter finishing on 4 for 23.

Kamande who was making a return into the first team as a replacement for Varaiya ended his five overs’ spell with 3 for 9.

“The wicket would have favoured the team that bowled first. So we were left wondering how Sikh Union won the toss and elected to bat.  We took advantage of the surface and made early inroads which in the end, made all the difference in the outcome of the match,” stand-in skipper Nithin Arvind said.

Mwendwa removed Sudhir Kumar Yadav for a duck, caught behind in the third over after being asked to bat. Himanshu Dixit then joined him three overs later after falling to Charith Jayampathi on 14 after putting on 13 with skipper Sukhdeep Singh.

Last week’s centurion Sukhdeep Singh was bowled by Gerald Mwendwa on 10

Harpreet Singh wasn’t lucky too as he was back in the pavilion with only one added between him and the skipper for a three ball duck.

Straight from his maiden century last weekend, the skipper wasn’t lucky this time round as he was only able to score 10 runs before becoming Mwendwa’s third wicket. Bhanu Shankar was run out for 8 to slice the top order and reduce the visitors to 36 for 5 in just the tenth over.

At this point, Sikh Union’s innings was in disarray and needed a batsman who could stitch it up. They managed to get that from Deepak Singh who stuck in the middle to the last ball of the innings. 

The Indian professional began his match – changing knock of a 63 ball – 53 with a sixth wicket stand of 20 runs with Raj Manji (11) in nine overs before getting another support of 40 runs from Satish Hirani for the seventh wicket. Deepak was patient and waited for the bowlers to make mistakes with their line and length to pounce on them. 

David Mutua was the biggest casualty when his fifth over went for 19 runs with Deepak hitting three maximums to get the scores to 79 for 6.

It took the introduction of Kamande with the score on 87 for what looked like a threatening stand to be broken. He dismissed Hirani for 6 before removing Praveen Tandon for a duck. He made it three for himself and left the visitors struggling at 114 for 9 by having Jassim Matharoo caught for 2.

Deepak was the last wicket to fall when he became Mwendwa’s third wicket.  

Raj Manji scored 11 runs for Sikh Union

 “Slightly disappointing with the start. We knew it was going to be tough but we kept losing wickets at crucial times,” Deepak said. “For us, it’s about finding a way in these conditions and trying to assess what a good score is. Without runs on the board, it isn’t easy.”

Matharoo gave Sikh Union a glimmer of hope by removing opener Dean Antony off the first ball of the second innings but Arvind finally found his form and kept the side’s nose ahead with a second wicket stand of 80 runs with Krishna Katukala.

Arvind who had not crossed the 15 – run mark in his last three innings, faced 40 balls, scoring 36 runs that included seven boundaries while Katukala who has remained the side’s innings – fixer scored 37 runs that included five boundaries from 43 balls.

Joseph Onyango played his third full match of the season after getting injured in the second week

The two fell in quick succession to Hirani who picked 2 for 16 from his four overs. Joseph Onyango (14) and Neil Mugabe (16) remained unbeaten.

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