Irfan Karim stood tall with a gritty half ton, helping Kenya recover from a lull in the middle to beat Nigeria by 60 runs, leaving all to play for in the afternoon match against Uganda in the ongoing ICC Africa T20 Regional Final at the IPRC Oval, Kigali. The lanky wicket keeper finished unbeaten on 52 runs, his 38 balls inclusive of five boundaries and one maximum as he guided Kenya’s see sawing innings to to 6/168 after being sent in to bat.
In return, Vraj Patel bested his man of the match performance in the previous match against Tanzaia to pick up his maiden five – fer in only his second T20i series while bagging his second consecutive match award as well. His three wickets off the seventh over left the West Africans crippling at 5/48 to change their firing trajectory having rocketed to 47 runs in the power play.
With his first two balls, Patel had the struggling Ashmit Shreshta (2) stumped and sent back Ademola Onikoyi (27), who had retired hurt at the beginning of the third over only to come back and lobe one to a waiting Emmanuel Ringera at Long off. Three balls later, Shem Ngoche was diving in at slips after a chat with the youngin to send back Isaac Okpe with a second ball duck.
Patel backed up his 3/1 over with a maiden over but teamed up again with Ringera to send the set Sesan Adedeji (24) packing inside the 11th over. A swift stumping by Irfan Karim off his final ball gifted him his fifth in the form of Peter Aho (7) who was threatening to fire to reduce Nigeria to 7/89 after 13 overs.
After trapping the dangerous Samuel Mba for 20, Ringera cleaned up the stubborn tail to tally his brilliant innings with 4/16 from 3.2 overs. He upended Taiwo’s stumps just inside the 15th over for 4 before Ridwan Abdulkareem (10) picked out Collins Obuya to close out the innings with 108 runs on the board.
Despite losing three wickets inside the power play, Kenya took off with Rushabh Patel teeing off with two boundaries and two maximums in his 12 ball 22 that helped the score to 40 in just 21 balls by the time he departed. His opening partner, Alex Obanda (29) also failed to make it out of the power play, Mohameed Taiwo getting through his defenses with just four balls to go.
True to their intent, Ringera (1) got up to three but was unable to capitalize, trapped at fine leg by Olayinka off Okpe Isaac, his attempt at a pull shot coming off his top edge. It took a herculean effort to get the run rate back up after Rakep Patel’s exit, taking a battering from nearly 12 down to 5 at some point once Patel was caught at deep square leg by Mba for 9, attempting his third boundary.
A run-a-ball 17 from debutant Sukhdeep Singh helped hasten things up before the skipper, who only faced 6 balls, hacked, pulled, scooped and hoicked his team to 17 more runs in an unbeaten 36 – run stand with Karim at the end.
Ridwan Abdulkareem was the pick of the bowlers for the West Africans with 2/18 off his three overs.