After a dismal show in the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cricket League championships and failing to qualify for next year’s 50-overs World Cup, Kenya will be seeking redemption in the shorter version of the game.
They launch the road to Australia for the 2020 ICC World Twenty20 tournament today against neighbours Uganda as the Africa B qualifiers begin at Gahanga Oval in Kigali, Rwanda.
Playing in a round robin format against their East Africa compatriots, Kenya will later take on hosts Rwanda and Tanzania.
At stake are two tickets to the African Region finals where they will join Nigeria and Ghana who already qualified from West Africa as well as winners from the Southern Sub-Region which comprises Botswana, Namibia and Zambia among others.
Today’s clash will also rekindle the memories of Kenya’s best cricketing years as two of the country’s finest, Maurice Odumbe and Steve Tikolo meet after several years.
However, despite having one goal of qualifying for the next round the duo will be in different camps seeking victory against each other.
Odumbe who took over from Thomas Odoyo as Kenya’s national team coach will be seeking success on his first major assignment while Tikolo will be out for a second successful outing with the Cricket Cranes. Tikolo led the Ugandan side to success in the ICC WCL Division Four in Malaysia.
Despite going to the championships as clear favourites, Kenya will be wary of the Ugandans who are battling to become East Africa best.
Last year, Uganda beat Kenya 5-0 in friendly matches and will be hoping for a repeat performance.
Odumbe who has remained confident since his appointment, retained the squad that lost all their matches in the ICC WCL Division Two.
They finished bottom of the table and were relegated to Division Three. Shem Ngoche will captain the team after former skipper Rakep Patel resigned following the poor show in Namibia.
However, Rakep who is one of the top batsmen in the country, is expected to excel with the bat while Ngoche who deputised him in past assignments will lead the bowlers. In the absence of wicket keeper Irfan Karim, Rushab Patel will be tasked to prove his worth.
Opener Alex Obanda will also be out to give Kenya a perfect start with the bat. Odumbe will be banking on youngster Dhiren Gondaria who has been impressive for the national team and is likely to start with Obanda.
Focus will also be on Elijah Otieno who returned to the national team having been dropped in previous assignments. Bowlers Emmanuel Bundi and Pushpak Kerai are also expected to shine.