Ager feels the wicket, Uganda for final dance

By sportsnewsarena correspondent
Jul 07, 2017
  • Botswana were unable to tame a fierce bowling by Maxwell Ager. (Photo Courtesy)

As the ICC Africa under-19 World Cup qualifier reached the fifth round on Friday, Maxwell Ager was the only player in the whole tournament who had not stepped on the pitch.

The lack of playing time for the Kenya bowler from hills of Kanam Village in Homa Bay county was a bit frustrating wnen it appeared the event could end without him having played.

“I was somehow getting frustrated and I really wanted to play. I felt that I was up to the task and was hoping that the coach will include me into the team before the tournament comes to an end,” Ager said.

With Kenya needing to win their fifth match against Botswana and boost their chances of qualifying for the event, Kenyan coach Jimmy Kamande gave him a chance of the playing in the XI at Nairobi Jaffery.

And to the shock of many, including his teammates and coach, Ager announced his arrival at the international level with a bang when he bagged five wickets as Kenya under-19 cricket team beat Botswana by 198 runs.

Having been given the first ball, Ager repaid the coach’s confidence in him as his performance saw Kenya successfully defend 281 with 22 overs to play.

Ager picked all the first five wickets of the chase to leave the South African side struggling on 23 for 5 in 6.5 overs.

After struggling for the line in his first over with a couple of wides, Ager finally got his maiden wicket with the last ball of the over to remove Ane Moduke for a duck.

He made it two for himself and 14 for 2 for Botswana when he had Usmaan Mohideen caught behind too with the first ball of his third over.

Botswana were three wickets down three balls later when Ager had Tarindo Perera also caught behind. He made it four and then five when he quickly had Brandon van Zyl and Sean Mpaesele caught behind in his fourth over with the board on 23.

“Even though I was a bit nervous with the wide balls at the beginning, I was confident that I will perform and lead my team to victory. I was trying up too many things that’s why I struggled in the beginning. But when I picked up my line and length everything went on smoothly,” Ager said.

Quick finish

Muaz Arooz (31) who was the only player in the Botswana squad that looked comfortable against the Kenyan bowling attack derailed Kenya’s surge for a quick finish with a sixth wicket stand of 44 runs in 12.2 overs with Valentine Mbazo (21).

The stand was broken by Abhishek Chidambaran who had Mbazo caught behind. Chidambaran made it seven and eight down with the dismissal of Arooz and Phemelo Silas with the board on 72 after 21 overs.

From there on, they did struggle to move the score on the board falling to 83 all out with Chidambaran finishing with 4 for 9 from 6.3 overs.

Earlier Aman Gandhi, Tom Ochieng and Ankeet Hirani scored half centuries to lay Kenya’s platform and post a commanding total.

Despite losing two wickets for 42 runs in 13.6 overs, the home team bounced back with a third wicket stand of 55 runs between Gandhi (62) and Aveet Desai (17).

When Desai was caught in the 25th over, Gandhi and Ochieng (63) pushed the scores to 126. The opener was finally caught behind after facing 98 balls that included 11 boundaries.

Sachin Bhudia (18) stayed on briefly getting the scores to 173 before paving way for Hirani who added on 82 for the sixth wicket.

Hirani hit two sixes and eight boundaries in his 31 balls knock before he was bowled with 23 balls to play and the board on 255.

Ochieng fell in the 48th over after hitting eight boundaries off 59 balls.

Kenya plays Uganda in the last match at Nairobi Gymkhana on Saturday. For Kenya to qualify, they will need to beat Uganda and hope that the net run rate favors them.