Varaiya needs patient batters as Lions face Ruaraka

Stray Lions Cricket Club ‘A’s captain has called for patience from his batters as they travel to Ruaraka Sports Club this weekend to open their second leg campaign as table toppers of the 2021 Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) 50 – over Super League division. The Peponi School side have 8 wins from nine matches, their only loss suffered against Sir Ali Muslim Club by 58 runs.

With a high score of 4/263 in their opening contest against Ruaraka from the first round of matches, skipper Hiren Varaiya reckons that the team still hasn’t produced its best performance going into the second round and gets a 8.5/10 rating. “I think that we have done okay but we have neither set the big targets while batting first nor chased totals with losing only few wickets. Instead, we’ve had our batsmen get in but not manage to finish games, making the matches go down to the wire. Bowling wise, we have done pretty well and we just need to cut down on the extras.”

Stray Lions have taken ten wickets in all their matches except against Kanbis Sports Club ‘A’ (249/9), a crunch tie that they won by 1 wicket with 17 balls to spare. The skipper hopes for improved match fitness as has been the case in the last couple of matches as well as more patience from the batters at the crease.

Joseph Onyango is back from injury break

Stray Lions will be without strike batsman Alex Obanda who did not play that opening match and Shem Ngoche who annihilated Ruaraka with a ton and three wickets in a man of the match performance. Joseph Onyango played his first full match last week, however, and will be back to hold the middle and bowl his quota, having picked four of Ruaraka’s wickets at home.

Varaiya still lauds team effort for winning them matches and is happy about Arvind’s return to form last week. “So far, it has been a team effort and I hope it continues. I look forward to Nitin (Arvind) coming back to scoring big for us. He has been down on form but certainly has the talent which he showed by playing well last weekend,” says Varaiya.

Arvind scored 36 runs off 40 balls last weekend against Sikh Union Sports Club ‘A’ having failed to cross the 15 – run mark in his previous three innings.

Ruaraka don’t seem to be doing much wrong even though Varaiya reckons that Stray Lions have a balanced side that can take them on. They have the two highest totals in the Super League (340 and 352) alongside the highest individual score in Pushkar Sharma’s 167* and Stray Lions will be hard pressed to top that if the hosts’ four overseas batters come good on the day.

Ugandan top order batsman Zephaniah Arinaitwe says his troops are ready to defend themselves against the Lion’s assault. “I’m in the right headspace as we anticipate another home match. I was unfortunate to be run out last weekend but I believe the big match is around the corner for me. We need this game as much as they do and the boys have a strategy to tackle them.” States Arinaitwe.

Ruaraka copped up a 169 – run loss away at Peponi School but they chopped and changed their side over the next eight matches to head into the second round with four professional players in their midst, helping them to four wins and two losses, including the last ball encounter that they loss to Sir Ali last week by three runs.

Stray Lions will especially be wary of two time centurion Pushkar Sharma who’s comfortably sitting at the top of the batting table with 422 runs from just six innings with an enviable 84.4 run average. Sachin Gill who has 101 runs and five wickets as well as Ajinkya Beloshe with 98 runs both from just two innings should give the Lions’ think tank a few head scratches.

Pushkar Sharma has scored two centuries for Ruaraka and is the highest overall League scorer

Ruaraka’s main bowlers – Vishil Patel and Harshit Vekaria are on song alongside Purshotam Vekaria and their overseas players will only be a boost to the bowling department.

The hosts come out of the first round of matches in fifth place with 18 points, having won four matches and an abandoned match against Obuya Cricket Academy that saw them share points while on a three match hot winning streak.

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