Bullish Lions knock over Samaj to reign supreme

Stray Lions’ Cricket Club ‘A’ spin trio came to party on Sunday to decimate Shree Cutchi Leva Patel Samaj ‘A’s already slim batting order as the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Super League table toppers extended their reign by a 6 – wicket win.

Skipper Hiren Varaiya led the left arm brigade alongside Shem Ngoche to return 4/30 and 3/38 respectively, from their full allotments while right armer Krishna Katukala backed them up with 2/40 from his 7 to turn out the hosts for 213 runs in 48.4 overs.

However, the skipper still believes that there is room for improvement. “The boys have improved a lot and you can see big partnerships and individual scores but there is still need for improvement,” he states.

Skipper Hiren Varaiya picked 4/30 for Stray Lions. Photo Credits.

Inching his way ever closer to the top of the batting order, Neil Mugabe was resplendent with an unbeaten maiden season half century as he turned out at 3 for the third time. One of Stray Lions’ find of the season, Mugabe carved out a 109 match changing partnership with Chaudhery for the fourth wicket, taking the score to 181 by the time the latter departed in the 28th over.

The former Cricket Kenya Men’s national team skipper roots for Mugabe to represent the country as an all-round batting option. “I dare say that he can be a good asset for the Kenya team and selectors should consider looking at him because his fielding is next level and he can be a good number 3 for Kenya.”

Neil Mugabe made his maiden season half century. Photo credits.

Mugabe finished with 53 runs off 74 balls, making a case for himself at the top of the batting order where Nithin Arvind has been a concern. “Neil has a very good technique for batting on top. Our top order was not quite successful initially so we decided to promote him. In asking him to take the anchor role, he has to bat the maximum number of overs which he did in the last game for us.”

Incoming wicket keeper batsman Anish Chaudhery made his mark with 80 runs off 55 balls that included 15 boundaries and two maximums. Chaudhery, fresh from plying his trade in the Mumbai U – 23 side was making his third appearance for the side replacing Zimbabwean Gary Chirimuuta who has since parted ways with the Club with 150 runs from 9 innings and  22 dismissals to top the fielding charts to date.

“He is very talented and hungry to perform. From the onset, we could tell that he is a very good keeper and an aggressive batsman and we are happy to have him on board,” the skipper notes on Chaudhery.

Mohit Jhawa picked 3/52 from his six overs, merely a consolation prize after lucking out with the bat.

Sent in to bat, Ravi Rabadia’s half ton powered Cutchi Leva to only their third 200+ score this season but it was all in vain as the visitors made quick work of the total with 17.2 overs to spare. Rabadia finished on 62 off 63 balls, Niraj Patel (40) and Dash Panchani (24) having earlier set up a solid 66 – run opening stand inside 17 overs.

Ravi Rabadia top scored for Cutchi Leva with a half century. Photo credits.

Speaking to kenya-cricket.com player – coach Lameck Onyango admitted to the fact that Stray Lions were too good for his young side as they missed their choice wicket keeper/ top order batsman Rahul Nathani for the second week running. “Hiren and Shem bowled very well where their pace bowlers failed to get purchase. We take it on the chin and hope to come back stronger. We have a good side that’s full of upcoming players and we only need to play more games for us to perform better,” said Ngoche, who also reckoned that the Sumit Halai experiment at the back of the innings worked.

However, despite the lower order batsmen chipping in, the Nairobi West based side could not recover from a top – middle order batting collapse that cost them 5/14, including 2/0. Vishal Bhojani (24), Sumit Halai (23 not out) and Harshin Varsani (18) packed up the runs for the lower order to pick them up from 6 – 92.

The loss leaves Cutchi Leva stuck at 9th place with only three wins.

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