Alex Obanda was on familiar ground this morning, blasting Kenya’s first ton at the Uganda leg of the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B, aiding Kenya in being the first team to cross over the 300 – run milestone as they annihilated Italy by 134 runs.
Obanda’s innings were characteristic of his usual fanfare when on song, smacking 11 maximums and four boundaries on his way to 115 runs off 83 balls at the Lugogo Cricket Oval to have the fans catching on the ‘Aleba ni noma’ adage as he fired his signature gun salute to celebrate only his second ton in the format. Rescuing the innings from an ominous looking 2/37 after 12 overs, Obanda went ham, putting on the bulk of a 119 – run partnership for the third wicket with Collins Obuya, having escaped a return catch by Sharif Amir while on the dreaded 99.
Picking up his man of the match award, Alex, who has become a household name in Uganda playing for Ceylon Lions stated that he backed himself. “I felt that I needed runs so I just came out and played positively. I am very happy with the result,” he stated.
Veteran Obuya played on but was unlucky to fall just 12 runs short of a maiden first class ton. Despite extending the unwanted statistic, he guided Kenya to 8 – 326, departing with only six balls left to play and having warmed up to 6 boundaries and five maximums off the 86 balls he faced, having brought up his half ton in 67 balls. He also added 56 with Rakep Patel for the fourth before the skipper was trapped in front by Gian – Piero Meade with his first ball of the 36th over.
Sachin Bhudia was emphatic with a quick-fire 40 off 19 balls borne from four sixes and two boundaries while Tanzeel Sheikh was fastidious in his first class debut with a second ball cover drive boundary, making his intent known despite being out for 16 off 16 balls, three boundaries therein.
Experience paid off for Gareth Berg as the pick of the bowlers for Italy, snapping up the two in form batters and Emmanuel Bundi (2) to close on 3/33. Jaspreet Singh, Crishan Kalugamage and Meade managed two wickets – a – piece.
Marcus Campopiano stuck in to guide Italy’s run chase, contributing 85 runs off 99 balls with 8 boundaries to his name but with regular wickets falling around him. He only departed in the 34th over after opening the innings, teeing off to Eugene Ochieng to earn Vraj Patel a well deserved wicket in his ninth over with the scoreboard on 6-175.
Prior to his dismissal, the opener looked to breeze home alongside Nicholas Maiolo (41 off 47) as the two added 75 runs to the fifth wicket before departing just six balls apart, the latter getting stumped off Obuya in the 33rd.
Italy added only 26 runs for their next three wickets, leaving Berg unbeaten on 20 runs off 15 balls with Sukhwinder Singh unable to bat having sustained an injury while fielding in the first innings.
Of the 8 bowlers used including the skipper himself; Bundi, Ochieng, Patel (Vraj) and Obuya scalped two wickets – a – piece, with Ochieng having earlier remained unbeaten on 13 runs as he made his first class match debut a little distance from where he made his T20I debut three years ago at Kyambogo Cricket Oval.
Sachin Bhudia bowled a solitary over and picked the one wicket of Sharif who looked set to tee off only find Obanda hovering in the deep on a day he would do no wrong.
The win elevates Kenya to seven points on the ICC Cricket World Cup Challenge League B table, despite still placing fourth ahead of the highly anticipated East Africa Derby pitting them against Uganda on Sunday.