“We are both players that never give less than 100% on the field and for the 8 odd hours we’ll be on the field, the ‘brothers’ tag will take a backseat and we will be purely competitors,” says Nairobi Gymkhana ‘A’ skipper Harshvardan Patel in reference to his brother, Swamibapa Sports Club ‘A’s captain, Rushabhvardan Patel.
Interestingly enough, the siblings who are both left handed opening batters for their respective teams have two 80s – a – piece this season with a high score of 89 not out and 88 for Rushabh and Harsh respectively in the Nairobi Provincial Cricket Association (NPCA) Super League competition. With his sights set on the top order in the senior men’s side, Rushabh is hoping that the icing on the cake comes against his former teammates and a ground that was just recently his home ground for four seasons.
Rushabh backs his pacemen who have come up short in the first leg of the competition. “Overall, the pacers are starting to find their groove and I’m backing them to come good. Nehemiah has come from Uganda bowling good spells in the one Day and T20s as well.”
Swamibapa would have felt a little wounded after Ruaraka Sports Club ‘A’ stopped them short of a fourth match winning streak but that did not stop them from a dominating performance over Sikh Union Sports Club ‘A’ last weekend. If their performance over the last couple of weeks is anything to go by, Swamis would be confident going into the ‘Lord’s of Kenya’ with a top order that is finally living up to its reputation what with being second on the ten team log.
Speaking to kenya-cricket.com on the eve of their encounter, I ask him whether he has been training day and night all week in order to bring up his impending ton against his brother. “We just need to fully apply ourselves mentally and skillfully execute our processes with our batting. Otherwise, it has picked up and looks quite convincing lately,” says Rushabh.
Swamibapa have enjoyed a good run since the arrival of professional players Rakesh Kahar and Dhwanil Patel six weeks ago to beef up their top – middle order. The two have since scored a ton a piece, Patel going an extra mile with three half centuries from five innings. Former Kenya international wicket keeper – batsman Morris Ouma has also been knocking it around at the top to gift himself three half centuries after a slow start to the season.
On his part, Harsh Patel has adjusted well to captaincy as regular skipper Kavi Dosaja serves out his two match ban alongside seaming all – rounder Lucas Ndandason for an on field spat that ensued against Sir Ali Muslim Club ‘A’ two weeks ago. “To be able to have the opportunity to Captain Gymkhana is a huge honour and to get to do so with the current group of players makes it even more enjoyable. The boys are all really pumped up and with 4 wins on the trot, we are looking at carrying that same momentum into tomorrow’s game,” he notes.
On the forced changes, he states, “Of course, we have had to adjust the squad slightly with the bans handed to Kavi Dosaja and Lucas Ndandason but the squad depth we have at the moment will still allow us to field a very strong side. It will be a welcome boost to have Karan Kaul back in the side as well.”
Even with a seemingly diminished squad last weekend, the skipper and Arun Yadav recorded 88 runs alike at the top with Alykhan Lalani adding 44 runs to set up a 226 – run win against Obuya Cricket Academy, the highest winning margin of the season, having put up the highest score, yet, in the season – 9/362. With that fifth win, Gymkhana still lie sixth on the table.
“It has been good to see our batters get some runs over the past couple of weeks and take responsibility which is something that was lacking earlier on in the season and I expect to see more of the same tomorrow. I feel we definitely have one of the best bowling attacks in the country with a superb combination of experienced pacers along with the introduction of our two young spinners – Aarnav Patel & Yash Talati,” Harsh states as he sums up the interview.